Scottish prisoners could gain right to vote

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation to decide whether to grant the vote to prisoners on short sentences.

Scottish prisoners on short sentences could get the right to vote. Pic: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Holyrood gained new powers over elections as a result of the Scotland Act in 2016 with MSPs now able to give consideration as to how to comply.

The Scottish Government has given its view that “it is not appropriate to give all prisoners the right to vote” but indicated it would support extending the franchise to those on short sentences.

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Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP called the ban on prisoner voting “arbitrary, pointless and inconsistent with human rights”.

He said: “The Greens have consistently made the case for change and we welcome the fact that this issue will now be formally on the agenda.

“The consultation should be focused on achieving consistency in terms of justice, rehabilitation and democratic participation.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said the blanket ban was neither fair nor progressive: “A blanket ban on prisoner voting flouts international law so change is long overdue.”

The Scottish Conservatives are the only party to oppose the plans.