United Future has been re-registered and recognised as a party in parliament again.
One of the problems the party had was the Electoral Commission’s refusal to recognise electronic memberships.
Its leader Peter Dunne took the opportunity in Question Time yesterday to ask about bringing the law up to date:
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: . . . —I agree that the time has come when we should also be looking into the greater use of electronic data for all aspects of our electoral system. I have asked my officials and the Electoral Commission to consider ways in which this can be achieved while retaining the very high levels of security and public confidence in the system.
Hon Peter Dunne: Does the Minister’s answer mean that she is prepared to look, in the context of the forthcoming rewrite of the Electoral Act, at changes to the law, to ensure that where parties register members online, those memberships will be accepted as valid?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Yes.
Hon Peter Dunne: Is the Minister also prepared to consider, as part of that review or changes to that legislation, looking at providing for a mandatory audit by the Electoral Commission of all parties’ membership once every 3 years?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have not given that matter any thought, but it is a matter that I could always discuss with the Electoral Commission.
Parties are required to have 500 members to be, and remain, registered. All the Electoral Commission has to go on is confirmation of this from the party.
There is no check on the accuracy of the count of the validity of the memberships and there should be. I would also like to see a significant increase in the minimum number.
Five hundred members is a very low target for a party to reach.
MMP has given a lot more power to parties, the law needs to ensure that they are representative of more than a few hundred people.
If a party can get tens, even hundreds, of thousands of people to vote for them, they ought to be able to persuade a couple of thousand to join them.
They, and democracy, would be stronger for it.