U.K. prisoners serving sentences of less than a year should be given the right to vote in elections, a cross-party panel of lawmakers said today. It would be better for Britain to uphold the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights than continue to deny the vote to all prisoners regardless of length of sentence, the panel, drawn from members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, said in a report.Prime Minister David Cameron said in November 2010 that the thought of giving prisoners the vote made him feel “physically ill” after a ruling by the ECHR that banning prisoners from voting was incompatible with the convention.
The panel is reviewing a draft bill brought in by the government which offers three options: to give votes to prisoners serving less than four years, those serving less than six months, or maintaining the blanket ban.
“The enfranchisement of a few thousand prisoners is far outweighed by the importance of the rule of law and the desirability of remaining part of the convention system,” the committee said. “A case has been made that enfranchisement might assist prisoner rehabilitation by providing an incentive to re-engage with society.”