Prisoners voting

Prisoners given right to vote again

Federal Parliament has passed legislation to overturn a ban on prisoners voting and to increase the amount of time people have to enrol once an election is called.

The Government says it is implementing two High Court decisions - one that overturned the Howard government's ban on prisoners voting and another that found electoral rolls cannot be closed on the day writs are issued.

Prisoners serving a sentence under three years will now be able to vote and people will have seven days to enrol after election writs are issued.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray says the Government respects the court's decisions.

"The amendments moved in 2006 were both unfortunate and inconsistent with both the spirit and the good governance of our electoral codes - they should not have happened," he said.

"The High Court agreed with that and the Government and the Parliament have today spoken on that matter."

The Federal Opposition has criticised the Government's move to restore the voting rights for some prisoners.

Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield says it sends a poor message.

"This bill is an insult to some of the principles of justice in our community," he said.

"The reason we build prisons and lock people up in them is because we believe that if you refuse to live by the laws of our community then you lose your right to participate in our community."

(Published by ABC News - May 11, 2011)

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