Scottish Nationalist Party MSPs in Holyrood have rejected the Scottish Conservatives’ attempts to stop prisoners “voting from the comfort of their cells”.
In February 2020, the Scottish Government passed the Scottish Elections Act, which allowed prisoners serving a sentence of 12 months or less the ability to vote in both parliamentary and local elections.
Scottish Conservatives have recently labelled this Act “shameful”, because it gives voting rights to a number of sex offenders, thieves and violent criminals.
A spokesperson for the Human Rights Consortium Scotland has said that there is “simply no need to reopen the debate”.
The argument goes that prisoners are in jail because they have intruded upon someone else’s human rights, and therefore do not deserve the right to democratic participation during their period of incarceration.
Fraise Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, has said that stripping prisoners of the vote would only make it worse when offenders try to reintegrate into society.
As the Scottish Conservatives only hold 30 seats in the Scottish Parliament – less than half that of the SNP – their attempts to keep the vote withheld from convicted criminals were unsuccessful.
The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party said: “Sex offenders will get to vote from jail in May.”
There are further issues with prisoner voter fraud that are similar to those in care homes, where the carers or prison guards have been found to be voting on behalf of the prisoners and those in care in the past.
This is therefore seen to “undermine the democracy in Scottish local elections”.
The issue will not be looked at further by Holyrood, as the European Court of Human Rights deems a blanket ban on prisoner voting “unlawful”.