The Welsh Labour-led Government and Plaid Cymru are calling for all prisoners to have the right to vote in Assembly and local elections yet there was no mention of giving prisoners the right to vote in either the Labour, Plaid or Liberal Democrat Welsh Assembly election manifestos and there appears to be very little public support for the proposal.
A 2017 YouGov survey found that a majority of Britons did not want any prisoners to have the franchise, and that a greater proportion of those in Wales and the Midlands were against such plans, with 60% of those questioned opposed.
In November 2017, the UK Government re-affirmed the current ban on prisoners serving custodial sentences from voting under UK election law. To address the European Court of Human Right’s 2005 ruling, the UK Government made minor technical changes to Prison Service guidance and ensured that prisoners are notified of their ban on voting when they are sentenced. These provisions were accepted by the Council of Europe, and the Council formally closed the case in September 2018.
Some European countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Russia, have similar laws to Britain and ban voting by convicted prisoners. Others, such as Belgium, France and Germany, ban voting by inmates convicted of certain serious crimes, such as treason or terrorism. So those against these calls are not alone in believing that if people are in prison they've committed a crime and opted out of the norms of society, and therefore it's only reasonable that for the duration of their incarceration they shouldn't be allowed to vote.
I remain steadfastly against extending further prisoner voting rights. I believe that existing arrangements, which extend to those on remand and yet to be convicted, and those serving part of their sentence in the community, are appropriate. There should be no changes to these arrangements without the public having their say by endorsing such a move through a manifesto commitment. The fact that attempts are being made to introduce this when taxpaying and law-abiding citizens of Wales have not been consulted on this matter in an election is outrageous.
Rights go with responsibilities, and not voting is just one of the facts of life arising from being in prison, reflecting a decision by the community that the person concerned is not suitable to participate in the decision-making process of a community.
Plaid Cymru say they want to enhance the human rights of prisoners. But instead of extending the right to vote to all prisoners, surely our priority must be the human rights of the victims whose rights have been violated by murderers, terrorists, rapists, and paedophiles.
My question to you all is: did you vote for this? I suspect that you didn’t.