Committee Updates May 2015

Scottish Elections (Reduction in Voting Age) Bill

The Constitutional law committee submitted its comments to the Scottish Parliament on the Bill.  In its comments the committee highlighted that there could potentially be human rights implications, in particular with regard to prisoners who are 16 or 17 years old.   Section 1 of the Bill gives 16 and 17 year olds the power to vote by amending the Representation of the People Act 1983.  Section 3 of that same Act disenfranchises prisoners from voting.  Currently, the UK blanket ban on prisoner voting is deemed in contravention of ECHR, however the Scottish Parliament cannot pass any laws that are incompatible with ECHR.  This means that adherence to the disenfranchisement for offenders of 16 years old may result in challenges on the basis that the Bill in this respect applies an incapacity which is incompatible with convention rights.

The full response is available on our website