Committee approves prisoner voting rights in local elections

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January 9, 2017 20:50
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The Knesset Interior Committee unanimously passed a bill on Monday that will allow prisoners to vote in municipal elections while incarcerated.

The bill, initiated by MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), is similar in its essence to the amendment bill that passed in 1986, which gave prisoners the right to vote in the general – but not municipal – election.

The bill now needs to be approved by the Knesset in its first reading. The MKs explained that each citizen holds more weight in municipal elections than they do in national elections, and that the outcome has major implications on their day to day life.

Gilon said Monday that voting is a basic human right, and it is an important part in the rehabilitation process of the prisoner. “When prisoners are given the right to vote in the municipal elections, they maintain their connection with the community and their original environment, and it is also an inherent part of the rehabilitation process,” he said.

“The right to take part in democratic elections is a fundamental right of each and every citizen in our state, and this bill is set to fix the injustice that exists in current law.”

“Beyond the fact that voting is a elemental right in democracy, it is a tool that has the power to create a feeling of responsibility, partnership and connection between a person to the state and the society,” Lavie said.

“There is no reason that the existing right to vote in the general election will be different when it comes to the [elections in] local municipalities, which affect the future of the prisoners and their relatives,” she added.

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