Referendum envelopes raise fear of transparent democracy

The Dominion Post 04/08/2009

The Electoral Commission is confident the integrity of the $9 million smacking referendum is not in danger, despite concerns that “see-through” envelopes could compromise the secrecy of the vote. Postal voting in the citizen-initiated referendum on the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” opened on Friday and runs until August 21. Once the voting paper has been filled in, it is possible to see through the white back of the envelope which box has been ticked. However, voters’ names cannot be seen through the orange front.

Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie, whose group wants the anti-smacking law thrown out, said he had received a couple of calls from people concerned about the transparency of the envelopes. “I suppose the only potential problem is if someone in the post office decided to winnow out `yes’ or `no’ votes, and there are a few conspiracy theories going around. “But we certainly don’t have agents in the post office and I doubt the Yes Vote Coalition does either.” He urged anyone who was concerned to courier their voting paper to the Electoral Commission.