In support of prisoners and prison justice activism in Canada
Prisoners Vote for First Time in Election

Stark Raven News
June 21, 2004

About one-third of prisoners registered to vote in the June 28 federal election. This is the first time that prisoners in the federal system have been able to vote.

In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on voting was unconstitutional.

Voting day for prisoners was on June 18th. Of those registered, it was not certain how many actually came out to vote.

More than twelve thousand prisoners in Canada's 53 federal prisons were eligible to vote.

There are 4 ways a prisoner can vote. They can vote in the riding where they last resided or the current address of their spouse or common-law. They can choose the address that appears on file for their place of arrest or the courthouse in which they were convicted. They are not permitted to vote in the riding of the prison, unless it is the same as one that falls within one of the 4 criteria.

This was done as the authorities wanted to prevent a bloc of prisoners from influencing the outcome of the prison's riding. Many see this as a problem and argue that prisoners should be allowed to vote in the region where they are living. The decisions made in the riding of the prison are the ones that most affect their lives.

In the past, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said he would strip prisoners of the right to vote by using the notwithstanding clause in the Constitution.

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