After a final ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, the UK government is believed to be planning a draft bill that will introduce limited voting rights for prisoners despite widespread opposition to the move in the legislature. The announcement of the draft bill is expected to be deferred until just before a late November deadline but after the November 17 election for police commissioner. All judgements made by the European Court of Human Rights are binding and member states are expected to abide by their judgements or face penalty, usually monetary. If Britain fails to change their prisoner voting laws, they could face a fine amounting up to £150 million.
While answering questions at the Common justice committee on October 25, UK Attorney General Dominic Greive said that if the UK did not abide by the European Court’s decision, the country could technically be thrown out of the Council of Europe.
Tory member of Parliament (MP) Dominic Raab, however, disagreed. The Guardian reported that Raab believes there is little danger of the UK being fined by the European Court should they fail to change prisoner voting laws and that there is no chance that the UK will be thrown out of the Council of Europe.
The issue in question, whether or not prisoners should be given the right to vote, has a long history in Europe. The current laws have been in place for 140 years and dictate that prisoners do not have the right to vote.