Limits on individuals wishing to run for office may only be based on objective and reasonable criteria, including criminal conviction.
- Every citizen had the right to be elected, subject only to reasonable restrictions
- The vote-counting process was transparent and observable
- Candidates and their representatives were able to observe polling and counting as means of protecting their right to be elected
- Vote counting and tabulation processes protected the right to be elected
- 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.
- Article 23(2) of the American Convention establishes that the law may regulate the exercise and opportunities of such rights only on the basis of “age, nationality, residence, language, education, civil and mental capacity, or sentencing by a competent court in criminal proceedings.” The provision that limits the reasons for which it is possible to restrict the use of the rights of paragraph 1 has only one purpose – in light of the Convention as a whole and of its essential principles – to avoid the possibility of discrimination against individuals in the exercise of their political rights. It is evident that the inclusion of these reasons refers to the enabling conditions that the law can impose to exercise political rights. Restrictions based on these criteria are common in national electoral laws, which provide for the establishment of the minimum age to vote and to be elected, and some connection to the electoral district where the right is exercised, among other regulations. Provided that they are not disproportionate or unreasonable, these are limits that the States may legitimately establish to regulate the exercise and enjoyment of political rights and that, it should be repeated, they refer to certain requirements that the titleholders of political rights must comply with so as to be able to exercise them.
- As with the right to vote, restrictions on the right to be elected must be confined to accepted criteria: age requirements, which may be somewhat higher than the legal voting age in the case of candidacies for high governmental office; citizenship requirements; reasonable residency requirements; and proportionate restrictions or disqualification in cases of findings of mental incapacity and criminal convictions.
- It is not uncommon that due to a criminal conviction for a serious offence, individuals are deprived of the right to stand for election. However, it can be regarded as problematic if the passive right of suffrage is denied on the basis of any conviction, regardless of the nature of the underlying offence.
- [P]rovision may be made for depriving individuals of their right to vote and to be elected, but only subject to the following cumulative conditions. ii. it must be provided for by law; iii. the proportionality principle must be observed; conditions for depriving individuals of the right to stand for election may be less strict than for disenfranchising them; iv. The deprivation must be based on ... a criminal conviction for a serious offence. v. Furthermore, the withdrawal of political rights ... may only be imposed by express decision of a court of law.
- It may be reasonable to exclude any person currently serving a prison sentence for having committed a serious crime. However, loss of candidate rights should be proportional to the crime committed, and candidate rights should be automatically reinstated once the sentence has been served.
- Reasonable restrictions may include factors such as residence, citizenship, convicted persons in legal detention, and those considered mentally incapacitated by the courts.
- The Human Rights Committee has recognized that some countries have permissible legislative penalties depriving violators of certain political rights. However, in Alba Pietraroia v. Uruguay (44/1979), the committee made reference to the principle of proportionality in examining the degree of deprivation and stated that a measure as harsh as the deprivation of all political rights for a period of 15 years would have to be specifically justified.
- As with the right to vote, the right to stand for elections is universal, and can not be limited for reasons of e.g. race, gender, language, religion, ethnic origin, political affiliation, or economic status. Internationally accepted restrictions may include a minimum age that is higher than the voting age, citizenship and a residency requirement for a certain period of time before elections. Furthermore, the obligation to collect a specific number of signatures or to pay a small deposit are considered as being generally compatible with the universal right to stand for elections. There might also be provisions for clauses suspending political rights (lawful detention, mental incapacity etc.).
- 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).