As of 2010, sentenced prisoners in this country are no longer able to cast a vote. The amendment to the Electoral Act, courtesy of National’s Paul Quinn, never made many headlines at the time. It apparently wasn’t considered a big deal.
Interestingly, those who were imprisoned before 2010 are still allowed to vote, implying that the logic here is one of deterrence. If you want to vote, don’t commit crime. That’s fair if you think of voting as a privilege, but the point is that it’s not, it’s a right. The ideal of voting is that you get a say in what the state does on your behalf, no matter who you are. Taking away that right as a punishment seems petty. Furthermore, as a deterrent it has no value - the importance of voting definitely isn’t at the forefront of anybody’s mind when they’re breaking into a car or lying on their tax return. If it was, we’d see a surge of crime once the election was over and people finally felt safe committing crimes again.
So the question is, why do it? What wrong was being righted by that change? You could be forgiven for thinking that it was simply a matter of taking rights away for the sheer thrill of it, which is a worrying attitude to take toward people who we should be encouraging to engage in pro social pursuits.