Prisons and Hospital Votes are Muted


"Following an Australian national campaign to ensure the enrolment of people in prisons and in hospitals, the result shows that many were blocked from doing so" said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.

"At each election we contact the Australian Electoral Commission branches, Departments of Corrective Services, prisons and locked hospitals in each state and territory across Australia, to ensure they fulfil their responsibility to enrol all eligible detained citizens. Justice Action defended the vote of people in prison when it was attacked in 2006 and 1997" said Mr Collins. 

"Some states appear to have taken their responsibilities seriously, implementing effective strategies that ensured proper enrolment. This was particularly the case for the enrolment of prisoners in NSW, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia; and for people in hospitals in NT and the ACT" said Mr Collins. 

"Other hospital systems appear to have neglected their responsibilities, with some in denial over the extent of the situation and others claiming that it is the individual obligation of the patients, despite their inability. This was particularly evident in NSW, Tasmania and Queensland. We are still receiving reports from inside" said Mr Collins. 

"Registration to vote is mandatory, with only seven days notice to do so. Those who are locked inside institutions depend on authorities to enable them to register their change of address and enrol. Australian prisoners who are serving a sentence of less than three years are eligible. People locked in hospital lose their vote if they are deemed to be unsound of mind by a medical practitioner" said Mr Collins. 

"The right to vote, to speak, to listen and decide is a basic tenet of democratic status. It gives authority to the state and the formation of laws – especially important for those who are the most affected by them. To block participation in an election is a violation of the social compact – and indicates a misunderstanding of the limits and obligations of control" said Mr Collins.  


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