Prison postal vote: Fewer than ten inmates apply
FEWER than ten prisoners have requested forms to apply for a postal vote in next month’s election after a States decision last year meant those serving sentences of under four years can vote for the first time, new figures show.
Election leaflets, posters and candidates’ manifestos have been delivered to La Moye Prison and made available to prisoners, although no arrangements have been made for candidates to visit the prison for election canvassing.
Before the States moved to allow prisoners serving short sentences to vote, inmates in Jersey were not able to take part in elections, potentially putting the Island in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The move was adopted by the States 30 votes to 14.
A response to a freedom of information request about the number of prisoners who had requested postal voting forms said: ‘There was already good awareness amongst prisoners about the entitlement to vote, following the media coverage after the promulgation of the change in law.
‘Notices to prisoners have been placed in the accommodation wings to inform prisoners about the up and coming elections and the criteria for entitlement to vote.
‘Information supplied by the Judicial Greffe has also been made readily available and this includes application forms to be placed on the electoral register and also to register as a postal voter.’ In 2004 the High Court case of Hirst v United Kingdom found that the UK was breaching the ECHR by banning prisoners from voting.
The matter was first raised in Jersey in 2012, but the Privileges and Procedures Committee decided at the time to wait until the UK had addressed the issue.
The move was revisited last year following legal advice from the Island’s Legislation Advisory Panel.
The FoI response added: ‘The prison authorities will ensure that any campaign posters, leaflets and so on are made available to prisoners. No special arrangements have been made for election candidates to visit the prison for canvassing purposes.’