Feature

A voting reform that is literally criminal

The week's news at a glance.

Ireland

Sinead Ryan
The Irish Independent

Criminals may well decide the next election, said Sinead Ryan in Dublin’s Irish Independent. In order to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, the government is being forced to give prisoners the right to vote. In a mind-boggling decision, the court ruled last year that denying the vote is a violation of a prisoner’s civil rights. Isn’t denying a criminal the rights that others enjoy supposed to be the point of prison? In some countries, felons can’t vote even after they’ve served their time. But the E.U. in its wisdom has spoken, so all 3,200 of the “thieves, robbers, murderers, and rapists who make up our prison culture” will be given absentee ballots for Ireland’s next election. Fortunately, they won’t be able to sway the outcome of any particular district, as the inmates will vote in their home counties, not the counties in which they are incarcerated. Still, they might be able to make an impact on party politics. Prisoners can be expected to skew extremist and leftist, so “the likes of Sinn Fein may see their vote increased.” It’s a bitter irony that people who scorned society’s laws will be given the responsibility of choosing lawmakers.

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