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MENTALLY ILL TO BE GIVEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE

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Mentally ill people are to be given the right to vote, breaking one of the centuries-old legal tenets that peers, l...
Mentally ill people are to be given the right to vote, breaking one of the centuries-old legal tenets that peers, lunatics and convicts are forbidden to elect MPs, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p1).

Under common law anyone suffering from 'severe mental illness' is not allowed to vote, even if their name is on the electoral register. The penalty is removal from the register for five years. All patients at psychiatric hospitals and others with severe illnesses are routinely advised or prevented from voting.

Home office minister George Howarth is backing moves to allow them the chance to take part in the democratic process.

The rule change has been prompted by a case about to be taken to the European Court of Human Rights, which the government expects to lose. Ministers are determined to draft the proposal carefully so that the criminally insane would still be unable to vote.
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