Limits on the right to vote may be based on criminal conviction.
- The law may regulate the exercise of the rights and opportunities referred to in the preceding paragraph [right to participate in government] only on the basis of age, nationality, residence, language, education, civil... capacity or sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings.
- The Court has already addressed the issue of the disenfranchisement of convicted prisoners. In particular, in the Hirst (no. 2) case, it noted that there is no question that a prisoner forfeits his Convention rights merely because of his status as a person detained following conviction. Nor is there any place under the Convention system, where tolerance and broadmindedness are the acknowledged hallmarks of democratic society, for automatic disenfranchisement based purely on what might offend public opinion (see Hirst (no. 2) [GC], cited above, § 70). According to the Court, this standard of tolerance does not prevent a democratic society from taking steps to protect itself against activities intended to destroy the rights or freedoms set forth in the Convention. Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, which enshrines the individual’s capacity to influence the composition of the law-making power, does not therefore exclude that restrictions on electoral rights could be imposed on an individual who has, for example, seriously abused a public position or whose conduct threatened to undermine the rule of law or democratic foundations. The severe measure of disenfranchisement must not, however, be resorted to lightly and the principle of proportionality requires a discernible and sufficient link between the sanction and the conduct and circumstances of the individual concerned (ibid., § 71).
- The Court also considered that where Contracting States had adopted a number of different ways of addressing the question, the Court must confine itself “to determining whether the restriction affecting all convicted prisoners in custody exceed[ed] any acceptable margin of appreciation, leaving it to the legislature to decide on the choice of means for securing the rights guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol No. 1” (ibid., § 84, and Greens and M.T., cited above, §§ 113 and 114).
- The Court reiterates in this connection that removal of the right to vote without any ad hoc judicial decision does not, in itself, give rise to a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (see Scoppola (no. 3) [GC], cited above, § 104). With a view to securing the rights guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, the Contracting States may decide either to leave it to the courts to determine the proportionality of a measure restricting convicted prisoners’ voting rights, or to incorporate provisions into their laws defining the circumstances in which such a measure should be applied.
- Undergoing long-term imprisonment following conviction in an ordinary court of law or…with a stated period, convicted of election malpractice.
- Reasonable restrictions may include factors such as residence, citizenship, convicted persons in legal detention, and those considered mentally incapacitated by the courts.
- Reasonable restrictions may include factors such as residence, citizenship, current incarceration or having been convicted of a crime
- Voting rights should be based on considerations that include: citizenship; legal age of majority (this may differ from country to country); residency requirements; any other additional grounds for disqualification (eg, prisoners in detention, persons with a criminal record... and so on).
- Universal suffrage means in principle that all human beings have the right to vote. This right may, however, and indeed should, be subject to certain conditions: b. Nationality: i. a nationality requirement may apply; ii. however, it would be advisable for foreigners to be allowed to vote in local elections after a certain period of residence.
- Reasonable restrictions [on voter registration] include: residence, citizenship, legal detention... criminal conviction.
- The UN Human Rights Committee has noted as impermissible 'excessive limitations on the voting rights of convicted criminals.'
- In general, these limitations fall within four categories: (1) minimum age requirements; (2) citizenship requirements; (3) residency requirements; and (4) loss of franchise due to mental incapacity, criminal conduct, or other factors. Any limitation or restriction on the right to vote, however, must be scrutinized as to whether it is clearly justified due to exceptional circumstances and whether it is proportionate to the circumstances in question.