E. Supp.

Scoppola v. Italy (No. 3): The Uncertain Progress of Prisoner Voting Rights in Europe

Abstract: This Comment examines European disenfranchisement of prisoners in light of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees a right to free elections through Article 3 of Protocol No. 1. While many European states continue the longstanding practice of denying wrongdoers the right to vote, at least under certain circumstances, this practice has come under increasing criticism over the last several decades. In recent years, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has decided several cases addressing this issue, but these decisions have failed to clarify under what circumstances it is permissible for a state to deny prisoners, and former prisoners, the right to vote. The ECtHR’s ambiguous use of the margin of appreciation doctrine has only added to the confusion. This Comment suggests that the ECtHR should take a clear stand against prisoner disenfranchisement by only permitting the practice when truly necessary to protect the democratic process.

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