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Comparative International Law$
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Anthea Roberts, Paul B. Stephan, Pierre-Hugues Verdier, and Mila Versteeg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190697570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190697570.001.0001

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Comparative Views on the Right to Vote in International Law

Comparative Views on the Right to Vote in International Law

The Case of Prisoners’ Disenfranchisement

(p.379) 18 Comparative Views on the Right to Vote in International Law
Comparative International Law

Shai Dothan

Oxford University Press

There is a consensus about the existence of an international right to vote in democratic elections. Yet states disagree about the limits of this right when it comes to the case of prisoners’ disenfranchisement. Some states allow all prisoners to vote, some disenfranchise all prisoners, and others allow only some prisoners to vote. This chapter argues that national courts view the international right to vote in three fundamentally different ways: some view it as an inalienable right that cannot be taken away, some view it merely as a privilege that doesn’t belong to the citizens, and others view it as a revocable right that can be taken away under certain conditions. The differences in the way states conceive the right to vote imply that attempts by the European Court of Human Rights to follow the policies of the majority of European states by using the Emerging Consensus doctrine are problematic.

Keywords:   right to vote, elections, prisoners’ disenfranchisement, emerging consensus, national courts, ECtHR

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