Koha for votes?

An interesting issue arose out of Duncan Garner’s inteview of Simon Lusk around the use of koha or a form of financial encouragement to vote.

Garner wrote: Lusk goes public on ‘koha to vote’

Many people have asked me does political operative Simon Lusk pay people, on behalf of clients, to get a certain voting outcome – as I said on TV3’s Story last night.

This is his response he just sent me:

Get out the Vote, especially in local government elections, can have a real impact on results because so few vote, and so few minorities vote.

Local government, on the other hand, is relatively easy to run a legal Get out the Vote campaign. Provided you are not paying for votes or offering anything in exchange for a vote, or treating, there are few rules around GOTV, and small turn out changes alter results.

The one group in New Zealand that has the ability to mobilise a big database of people quickly and effectively is Iwi. Thanks to the Treaty settlement process Iwi now have extensive databases of members who they can easily mobilise. At local government, iwi can quickly mobilise people to ensure their members Get out the Vote, and get their candidates elected. Assembling a team of 50 or 100 iwi members to Get out the Vote is straightforward, legal and effective if it is possible to raise some koha.’

(That is edited)

This raised some discussion in the Social Media thread today but it deserves it’s own post.


From Lusk’s statement, I suspect something a bit more dodgy is at play here, and I suppose it’s the whole idea that has me gobsmacked.

Just thinking about it today has given me a strange possessive (? if that is the right word?) feeling about my right to vote and the fact that I would never sell it, for anything.

As the RNZ article says “But that statement didn’t answer key questions: How much was paid? By whom? And for what purpose? “

Pete Kane:

Three things here:

1. Were people ‘paid’ (if ‘koha’ for expenses still must be declared) to canvas/work in some way? (A problem if yes and not declared.)

2. Were people given a ‘koha’ to participate in the form of vote? (Big problem.) Were people given a ‘koha’ to participate in the form of vote – with implied (big, big problem) guidance or even clear ( HMP rock breaking problem) ‘guidance’ as to how said vote is ‘best’ cast?

3. Did Lusk admit to being hired by a third party to campaign for an election outcome (either Party Vote or TTT or both)? Was this declared under the EFA requirements?

Note: In the pragmatic sense – it’s really Mana/Internet vs Labour, National and NZ first here. Wouldn’t have a clue how the Greens might approach this (although Nicky vs Lusk?). So not easy – but I would think there are people, not only from Internet/Mana interests, but political and legal academia, just sneaking a little peep at all this.