Who should have the right to vote?
Everybody, in my opinion, should have the right to vote. Limiting the vote, to particular groups or person’s in our society; perpetuates the assumption that we are not equal. Furthermore, the continuation of these groups and persons not being able to vote heightens inequality.
Voting is a right
Voting is a right. Under Article 3, of the first protocol of the Human Right Act 1998. The right to free elections is crucial for establishing and maintaining the foundations of an effective and meaningful democracy. By the UK agreeing to Article 3 of the first protocol. The UK has agreed to undertake free elections at reasonable intervals. A vital part of this is the allowing citizens of the UK the right to vote. Without allowing citizens to vote this would be restricting freedom of speech which is vital in a democracy, would erode.
Not my view
The British National Party (BNP) for example, hold views which are a world away from mine. However, would I want to take away their vote, simply because I disagree? no, that would be simply wrong. The party exists and I have to accept this in order to maintain the fabric which maintains a democratic society.
Politics, policy’s and the personnel who govern us effects each and every one of us. However, some groups within our society will not have their opportunity to vote.
A key example is homeless individuals, or those living in temporary accommodation. Homeless people are entitled to vote. However, the homeless individual would have to make a declaration of local connection. This will specify which constituency they will vote in. Disappointingly, only a small number are registered to vote. Cat Smith Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement said, “In 2017, the latest electoral register for England, showed just 2,963 entries made through the declaration of local connection”. She went on to say “137,000 individuals are currently listed as homeless” across England.
Granted 137,000 individuals won’t swing an election. However, every UK citizen regardless of their means and ability should have their voices heard. If anything we as a society should be encouraging groups on the fringes of our society, to vote. The homeless charity, Crisis has said: ” Homeless claimants are twice as likely to be sanctioned and have their allowances and housing benefits cut”. Knowing this, it is all the more important that homeless people feel able to vote. As they are likely to be impacted upon the most.
Figures from March 2017 stated there are just over 85,000 individuals in prison for England and Wales. Just under, 7,700 for Scotland and 1,600 for Northern Ireland. These figures would be alarming. If they had been representing anything other than our prison population.
Surely, this number of individuals unable to vote is, appalling.
Preventing prisoners to vote is easy to justify. They have broken the law. Therefore, they should be prepared to lose certain rights they currently process. However, they don’t lose all their rights. If they did, they would not have been entitled to a fair trial.
So why should they lose their right to vote?
For me, it does not make seen to alienate our prison population. Could it make sense to allow prisoners to vote? I believe it could. Maybe, having a positive impact on their rehabilitation if they are tasked with the responsibility of voting. I cannot guarantee if prisoners get their vote, they will never commit a crime again. However, this topic should at least be getting debated. In Germany, Prisoners lose their rights to vote if they have been convicted of crimes that targeted the state or democratic order. This simply means a thief would keep their vote. Yet an individual who has committed terrorism wouldn’t. I feel this is a fair compromise. Most prisoners will leave prison, so Isn’t it better they come out apart of our society rather than an outcast.
The ability to vote is our right. Allowing all UK citizens to vote is apart of the fabric which keeps our country a democracy.