A report published today reflects our work to extend voting rights in Scotland to refugees and people in the asylum system.

Today the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointment Committee published their Stage 1 report on the Scottish Elections (Franchise & Representation) Bill.

This bill has the potential to change voting and candidacy rights in Scottish elections and to extend the right to vote to everyone who has or is still seeking refugee protection.

We – along with refugee community groups and representatives – have given evidence to the committee and we are pleased today to see much of what we have asked for reflected in the report.

 

In particular we welcome:

  • The Committee supports extending the right to vote to foreign nationals: “we believe that people who live and contribute to our country should also have the right to vote in elections to local government and the Scottish Parliament as these bodies will develop policies that affect them.”

 

  • The committee is considering our call for people in the asylum system to have the right to vote. “The committee recognises the practical barriers to enfranchising asylum seekers but calls on the Scottish Government to urgently examine whether the franchise could be extended to asylum seekers resident in Scotland.”

 

  • The report recommends further work to “promote participation more widely by ensuring that the register of local government electors is as complete and accurate as possible.

 

  • “The committee believes that the right to stand as a candidate in Scottish elections should also include everyone resident in Scotland and eligible to vote. “The Committee therefore calls on the Scottish Government to bring the candidacy provisions for foreign nationals in line with the franchise provisions.”

 

We will continue to work with the Scottish Government and other MSPs to address the ‘practicalities’ concern around enfranchising people seeking asylum, as well as considering potential amendments to the legislation that would create a fully inclusive franchise.

 

Find out more about our work on extending voting rights in Scotland for refugees and people in the asylum system.

Author: Chris Afuakwah