|Voting by Imprisoned Persons Ordinance fully begins today
The provisions of the Voting by Imprisoned Persons Ordinance, which seek to remove the restrictions on prisoners' right to vote and to remove the disqualification of people who have been convicted of certain election-related or bribery offences from voting at public elections, are brought into operation today (October 30).
The amendment regulations made by the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC), which provide for the detailed practical arrangements for prisoners to register as electors and for prisoners and persons remanded, detained or arrested who are registered electors (electors in custody) to vote, are also brought into operation at the same time.
The other provisions of the ordinance, which mainly concern the registration of prisoners as electors, already came into operation on July 3.
"With the commencement of operation of the ordinance and the amendment regulations, the legislative exercise relating to prisoners' voting right has been completed. There is now a clear and integral legal framework for prisoners to register as electors and for electors in custody to vote in public elections," a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said.
In August 2008, the Court of First Instance of the High Court granted leave to three judicial review applications which challenged the constitutionality of the restrictions on prisoners' right to be registered as electors and to vote under the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542). After hearing the case, the court declared in December 2008 that the concerned restrictions were unconstitutional.
To take forward the court's judgment, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau launched a public consultation exercise and, taking into account the views gathered, introduced the Voting by Imprisoned Persons Bill into the Legislative Council (Legco) in May 2009. The Bill was enacted into the Ordinance on June 24, 2009. The EAC subsequently made the amendment regulations, which were tabled into Legco on June 16 and 26 to provide for the practical arrangements.
Ends/Friday, October 30, 2009