Complaint lodged with United Nations over New Zealand's prisoner voting rights

The United Nations has received a formal complaint over the fact prisoners in New Zealand do not have the right to vote.

Prisoners were disqualified from voting as a result of the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill in 2010, which was introduced to Parliament by National Party MP Paul Quinn.

Inmates and advocates have been fighting to get the right back ever since, and in November 2018 it was ruled the law change was inconsistent with New Zealand's Bill of Rights.

At the time inmate Arthur Taylor told Newshub the decision was celebrated inside prison.

"Some of [the prisoners] have made me a cake out of biscuits and things they can buy on their purchases, so that was quite nice, the thoughts there anyway," he said.

But the Government does not have to act on a decision of inconsistency and Justice Minister Andrew Little said at the time discussions were yet to be had about the issue.

A formal complaint has now been lodged with the United Nations over the Government's lack of action on the matter, TVNZ reports.

The claim asks for a determination that agrees with the complaints around prisoner voting rights and requests a formal response from the Government.

That could lead to the Government being hauled in front of the UN to explain itself.

The Green Party has long supported the return of prisoner voting rights and said in November that prisoners should be able to engage in democracy.

"Allowing prisoners to vote would be a simple change that would increase their community engagement," justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said.

"Incarceration should not exempt you from the democratic process."

National does not support changing the law and leader Simon Bridges told TVNZ losing the right to vote was a consequence of committing a crime.