Denying voting rights to prisoners constitutional: Tokyo High Court

Kyodo

The Tokyo High Court ruled Monday that denying prisoners the right to vote is constitutional, rejecting a plaintiff’s demand that the proportional representation segment of last July’s Upper House election be invalidated.

The ruling conflicts with a decision handed down in September by the Osaka High Court, which ruled that denying prisoners the right to vote is unconstitutional. It was the first judgment on the public offices election law provision restricting voting rights for convicts.

The Tokyo High Court said the provision has rational grounds because it is one of the sanctions imposed when people are sentenced to prison or death, and does not abuse the Diet’s discretionary power.

The high court also turned down the allegation leveled by the plaintiff, a lawyer in Tokyo, that errors in voting and vote counting in the House of Councilors election affected the results.

In the Osaka lawsuit, which was filed by a former convict who is demanding compensation from the state, the Osaka High Court said that a blanket restriction on voting rights is unconstitutional but rejected his demand for compensation. The decision has been finalized.