“Harawira’s recount bid backfires” declared the headline for Tracy Watkins’ article for Stuff, as it was revealed that Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau seat recount resulted in Harawira losing two votes and Kelvin Davis gaining two votes.
Except that Harawira had explicitly stated that he wasn’t trying to overturn the result. Instead, the recount was about bringing publicity to Harawira’s allegations that Maori roll voters were subject to systematic racism. On National Radio’s Morning Report, he stated:
“Opening polling booths without Maori roll voting papers, I’m talking about people not being offered assistance to vote, Maori people getting sent from Whangarei to Wellsford to vote, Maori people getting turned away because they didn’t have their EasyVote card, Maori people having their identity questioned because of their different name, Maori people being treated like they just don’t deserve to be in the polling booth.”
Likewise, on Newstalk ZB, it was reported:
Mr Harawira has accused the Electoral Commission of racism, and today says he’s heard of Maori voters being turned away from polling booths because they didn’t have their Easy Vote card, or being told they couldn’t cast a special vote. He claims in some instances, Maori voters were told to wait while Pakeha voters were served first.
Is there any truth to the allegations? Who knows. To my knowledge, Harawira certainly hasn’t rolled out any accusers. It’s entirely possible that throughout the many Te Tai Tokerau voting booths there have been isolated incidents of racial discrimination. I’d be extremely dubious dubious about claims that any discrimination is systemic – Harawira and hyperbole have always gone well together.
Nonetheless, the cost to Harawira and Mana for the recount was just $1,000. And for that $1,000, Harawira received a solid media platform to publicise his concerns regarding racial discrimination in our electoral system. I’d say that’s pretty good value for money.
Harawira’s recount bid backfired? Not really…