Prisoner voting plans unveiled
The Welsh Government has unveiled plans to allow prisoners and young people normally resident in Wales who are in custody in the UK, serving a custodial sentence of less than 4 years, to vote in local government elections in Wales.
Local Government Minister, Julie James, has published details of amendments to the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill, which is currently making its way through the Senedd, to allow the changes to take place.
The amendments to the Bill will see an approximately 1,900 adult prisoners and 20 young people in custody being able to vote at the next ordinary local government elections (across all principal and community councils) to be held in May 2022.
Local Government Minister, Julie James yesterday said:
The principle of giving at least some prisoners the vote was supported in consultations undertaken by Senedd Cymru and the Welsh Government. A committee of the Senedd recommended prisoners and young people in custody serving sentences of less than four years should be enfranchised.
Respondents to the consultations cited the human rights and citizenship of prisoners, alongside the rehabilitation benefits of enfranchisement, as reasons why the vote should be extended.
However, we are not extending the right to vote to all prisoners and young people in custody. I believe our policy strikes the right balance between sending strong and positive messages to prisoners that they continue to have a stake in society and acknowledging the nature, gravity and circumstances of the offending. The sentence threshold of 4 years means that the most serious offenders will not be enfranchised.
Eligible prisoners would register to vote on the basis of an address in Wales, with which they have a connection; this might be their family home, their previous residence or, if homeless, an address with which they can demonstrate a connection.
No prisoners would be able to register to vote using the address of the prison itself. Prisoners from England or elsewhere in prisons in Wales would not be able to register to vote in Welsh local government elections unless they could demonstrate a connection with another address in Wales.
Prisoners would be able to vote by post or by proxy only - there would be no polling stations in prisons.
If prisoners decide to exercise their right to vote, they will need access to candidates, election literature and Welsh media in order to identify the issues and to make informed choices. In line with the recommendations of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee, the Welsh Government will seek to reach agreement with the UK government to enable prisoners from Wales across the prison estate to access relevant information and minimise possible barriers to registering and casting their vote.
The Bill will also enfranchise foreign citizens who are legally resident in Wales; any prisoners who meet these criteria would be enfranchised.
In advance of the devolution of powers over elections to the National Assembly for Wales in 2018, the Welsh Government consulted on electoral reform in the summer of 2017.
50% of respondents supported the proposal of giving prisoners the right to vote, compared 48% opposing with 2% not expressing a view.
Latest News from
“UK government must respect devolution” - Wales and Scotland24/11/2020 16:05:00
The UK government must step up, respect devolution and honour its commitment to replacing EU funds in full, ministers from Wales and Scotland have demanded today.
Support for communities and organisations as Wales looks to tackle biodiversity crisis24/11/2020 14:05:00
As experts and activists from across Wales gather to collaborate in support of nature recovery at the Wales Biodiversity Partnership Conference, yesterday saw the opening of the new Green Recovery Capacity Building Scheme for the environmental sector.
UK wide transport review must address £2.4bn+ underinvestment in Welsh rail24/11/2020 11:05:00
Ken Skates has said the recently announced ‘Union Connectivity Review’ should be used as an opportunity to “put right” the UK Government’s neglect of Welsh railways.
Temporary visitor ‘pods’ for care homes to be rolled-out24/11/2020 09:05:00
Temporary ‘pods’ are being provided to care homes across Wales to better facilitate visits over Christmas and the winter months, the Health Minister yesterday announced.
Welsh Government calls for a fair deal for Wales and its front line workers ahead of UK Spending Review23/11/2020 14:05:00
Ahead of the UK Government’s Spending Review statement, the Welsh Government is urging the Chancellor to rule out a public sector pay freeze and deliver the funding Wales needs to protect health and jobs with support for a fair recovery.
Schoolchildren asked to design First Minister’s Christmas card23/11/2020 11:05:00
The winning card will be sent to the Queen and US President-elect Joe Biden.
Greater well-being support pledged for social care workers during the pandemic20/11/2020 13:20:00
Social care workers in the independent sector in Wales are to be given greater support to protect their well-being during the pandemic.
Minister reacts to publication of NHS Wales performance data restarting20/11/2020 11:05:00
Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething statement on yesterday's (19 November) publication of NHS performance data.
First report published by working group on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic education resources20/11/2020 09:05:00
An interim report published yesterday from the working group set up to strengthen education resources relating to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.