Scottish government extends the right to vote

By agency reporter
June 22, 2019

The Scottish Government has published legislation to extend the right to vote in Scottish elections to citizens of all nationalities legally resident in Scotland.

The Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill will benefit around 55,000 people and also reaffirms the existing voting rights of European Union and Commonwealth citizens.

Minister for Parliamentary Business Graeme Dey said:“Scotland has already led the way by lowering the voting age to 16, and we are building on this progress by extending the right to vote to everyone legally resident here.

“Extending voting rights to all citizens with a legal right to residency demonstrates Scotland’s commitment to equally value everyone who chooses to make our country their home, and is a demonstration of the kind of Scotland we are seeking to build.

“It is only fair that foreign nationals with the permanent right to live here, whether from EU countries or elsewhere, have the right to vote and stand as candidates in devolved elections. This is backed by the public consultation we undertook in 2018 which found 92 per cent of organisations and 78 per cent of individuals supported this reform.”

The Bill also addresses how the Scottish Government intends to comply with the ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that a blanket ban on prisoner voting breaches the European Convention of Human Rights.

Mr Dey added: “We have decided not to extend voting rights to all prisoners. We are confident that restricting prisoner voting to those serving sentences or less than 12 months means we can comply with the Court’s ruling.

“This measure will also support rehabilitation and reintegration back in to society in order to reduce reoffending.”  

* Scottish Government https://www.gov.scot/

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