It’s a funny old election they are running in the Super City.
No matter who wins, Alf will be suspicious about the result and the going-on that will have tainted it.
Some voters seem to have been disenfranchised by the non-delivery of their voting papers.
Others seem to have been fiddling the system by casting votes with forged papers.
Alf’s mate (and Auckland City Mayor) John Banks is quite right to wonder about the integrity of the election.
“We need to make sure this mayoral election is not stolen,” said Mr Banks, who believed the result was going down to the wire.
“I have always been extraordinarily suspicious of the high level of early voting in some parts of the city and the present system of voting leaves itself wide open to abuse.”
Banks’ main rival. a bloke called Brown who is Mayor of Manukau, is expressing disappointment with anyone who has abused the democratic process.
His response should be unmitigated outrage.
But first, let’s look at the handicapping of some voters by the non-delivery of voting papers.
A candidate for the Auckland super city council is concerned many Maori have not received voting papers.
Waina Emery says Papakura Manurewa has the highest percentage of Maori of any ward in the city.
She says her door knocking has revealed far too many people who don’t have papers … and there is only a day left to do something about it.
“People have to send away for a special vote and then they’ve got to go to the post office if they’ve changed address and it’s quite involved and then they need to get their vote by Wednesday and post it. If they don’t get it posted they have to take it in to the council. We’re going to need to ask some questions because how can our Maori vote if they haven’t got the papers,” Ms Emery says.
So what’s gone wrong?
It looks like these citizens are victims of the “panicky postie” who tried to dump bags full of voting papers meant for Mangere householders.
New Zealand Post credits keen-eyed refuse collectors with rescuing some of the bags.
“They spotted the documents poking through rips in two plastic rubbish sacks on the street outside a house,” said postal services chief Peter Fenton.
The company said delivery of bundles of packs was a big job for posties.
But this one panicked and, instead of seeking help, put them in sacks for the kerbside rubbish collection.
Rubbish collectors alerted NZ Post and the postie, described as “new and on call”, was sacked last week.
The Herald says about 400 voting packs were recovered and delivered to the Mangere addresses, though later than they should have on September 20.
However, reports this week of residents not getting their packs prompted a further inquiry.
The postie owned up to having dumped more packs, which are probably by now in a refuse landfill.
He was unable to say how many.
“We believe three streets are affected but, to be on the safe side, letters were delivered today to eight streets advising how to contact the electoral office to arrange for special voting papers or to make arrangement to vote in person.
“NZ Post acknowledges the inconvenience caused to customers and we apologise.”
Alf does not know the name of the panicky postie.
He does know the name of a bloke charged with forging voting papers, who happens to be a Super City candidate, but he is not permitted to publish it.
This bloke was initially declined name suppression by a judge in Manukau District Court yesterday.
But his lawyer is appealing against the ruling, meaning his identity will remain hidden from voters for at least 48 hours.
The Herald says the bloke, a candidate for election, was one of two men, aged 36 and 39, who appeared in the Manukau District Court charged with forgery after a police inquiry into alleged voter fraud.
Judge Heather Simpson granted interim name suppression to one of the men because he was not an election candidate, but declined an application from the second man because of the “strong public interest” in naming someone standing for election.
If name suppression were granted, the judge said, “naturally suspicion will fall on all the candidates, which is unfair. Other candidates may find themselves compromised. The election itself may be compromised”.
But Judge Simpson was forced to grant interim suppression when the man’s lawyer, Howard Lawry, said he would appeal against her ruling.
The Herald says the identity of the Super City candidate will be kept secret until the appeal can be heard in the High Court.
It also quotes Auckland electoral officer Dale Ofsoske as saying the election would carry on as normal, even though a candidate has been charged with forging voter papers.
Carry on as normal?
It wouldn’t be regard as normal here in Eketahuna.