prisoners and the right to vote

For the record I am in favour of votes for prisoners but I don’t think the vote of a convicted prisoner should ever count for more than my vote. Here is question 13 of the Government’s consultation on prisoners’ voting rights.

Question 13. Do you have any other comments and suggestions on the proposals for implementing the Hirst (No. 2) judgment?

[in a nutshell the judgement says you cannot have a blanket provision
that stops all prisoners voting]

My response to this part of the consultation
Given the UK’s obligations with respect to human rights and in particular the Hirst (No. 2) judgement it seems inevitable that at least some convicted prisoners will be allowed to vote. If that happen we must all accept that the votes of prisoners will have an impact on election results. What I could not possibly accept is a situation where the vote of a convicted prisoner counted for more than the vote of a law abiding citizen. Under first-past-the-post it is very common for votes to be unequal in value. Around 70% of all votes cast at the last General Election were wasted according to Make Votes Count. The only solution is to change the voting system to ensure all votes count equally. The change would have to be made at the same time as the Hirst (No. 2) Judgement was implemented or earlier.”

What is perhaps more unfair is that prisoners might well get to choose between voting in the constituency that the prison is in or voting in the constituency they lived in before prison [note 1]. The prisoners who understand the voting system may well choose to vote in the constituency where they think it will have the greatest impact. Most law-abiding citizens won’t get that choice.

note 1:
“The Prison Service has confirmed that it regularly deals both with the MP for the prisoner’s
home address and the MP for the constituency in which the prison is situated, and are perfectly content to do so…a Prison Service Instruction on Legal and Confidential Access Correspondence which states that correspondence between prisoners and various organisations and individuals, including MPs, should be subject to confidential handling arrangements… where the MP is acting in a “constituency capacity”, which the Prison Service confirms, covers both the home address MP and the MP for the constituency in which the prison is situated…” Members and Constituency Etiquette

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