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Revised election law allows wards to vote by proxy

JIJI

The House of Councilors enacted a law Monday that gives wards the right to vote, meaning that about 136,000 adults under legal guardianship will be able to cast ballots in the Upper House poll this summer.

The Upper House of the Diet unanimously approved a bill to amend the Public Offices Election Law by removing Article 11, which prevents wards from exercising their right to vote. The bill passed the Lower House earlier.

Under the revision, adults who are under guardianship will be able to exercise their voting rights via proxies. Proxy voting will also be allowed in national referendums on constitutional amendments.

To prevent illegal voting, the new law only allows polling station officials engaged in clerical duties to act as the wards’ proxies.

In March, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the election law clause was unconstitutional because it supports discrimination based on social status. The case was brought by a woman who had been put under legal guardianship because of a mental disability.

Following the decision, the ruling and opposition parties began discussions on revising the law and jointly introduced an amendment bill, although the government is appealing the district court ruling.

At a press conference Monday afternoon, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government cannot drop the appeal because doing so will finalize the ruling by the district court.