Prisoner voting: consultation

The proposal relates to Scottish Parliament and local government elections.

Where and how should prisoners vote?

It is estimated that around 1000 prisoners would be enfranchised if the threshold sentence length was 12 months or less. A threshold for 6 months or less would allow around 480 prisoners to vote.

Prisoners will not be entitled to vote in person. Instead, they will need to register for a postal or a proxy vote, in a similar way to remand prisoners who are currently eligible to vote.

Prisoners would be registered to vote by declaration of local connection to a previous address or local authority, rather than the prison address. This would avoid the potential for large numbers of prisoners, registered to the prison, to cause distortion to voter numbers and electoral results, especially for Scottish local elections given the smaller sizes of wards. This approach would also avoid the impracticalities of having to deal with ballots from wards and constituencies all over the country in one polling station located in a prison.

Prisoners wishing to register to vote will need to submit a paper form to an Electoral Registration Officer ("ERO") to register. Prisoners do not currently have internet access. Phone registration would also be impractical due to the inability to check whether the information provided is accurate.

Postal votes would be sent to the prison address which prisoners have provided to EROs. Postal vote packs would be treated as privileged correspondence, and so Scottish Prison Service ("SPS") staff would not open the packs when they enter or leave the prison.


Email: Elections Team

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