Arthur William Taylor was released from prison this month, and is set to continue his legal work started behind bars including campaigning to restore voting rights to people in prison. But why did prisoners lose the right to vote in the first place?
On November 10, 2010, a young Simon Bridges took to the floor in parliament to declare his support for a bill that would apparently protect a “right that people have gone to war for, have fought over, and have shed blood over.” For Bridges, the National government’s commitment to protecting this right put supporters – in his own words – “on the side of the angels here.”
Most people could be forgiven for casting their minds to policies that deserve the esteemed nature of the label. Was it a commitment to preserving human life overseas? Perhaps the government had found a solution for homelessness in New Zealand? No. Bridges and his fellow party members, the self-professed ‘angels’ of human rights in New Zealand, didn’t take a stand to protect any rights at all. Rather, he stood to undermine one of the most fundamental entitlements in any democratic society: the right to vote.