OSAKA — The Osaka District Court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a man suffering from anxiety neurosis who claimed his ineligibility to vote by mail violated his constitutional rights.
The man had demanded 1 million yen in compensation.
At the same time, however, presiding Judge Hiroshi Muraoka said that the current system under which voters can cast their ballots from home “is not necessarily complete when viewed in light of the Constitution, and improvements should be considered.”
The plaintiff, a 23-year-old resident of Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, maintained that his illness made him extremely anthropophobic — afraid of human society — and prevented him from leaving his home.
The Public Offices Election Law allows people with certificates identifying them as having serious physical handicaps or suffering from injuries sustained in war to mail in their ballots. However, people such as anthropophobics and bedridden elderly are not eligible.
In November, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the government’s refusal to accept the mail-in ballots of sufferers of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, was unconstitutional, although it was not an illegal act that merited the awarding of damages.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was born with a mental disorder and began to shun contact with the outside world after he entered high school.
In 2000, he showed interest in the Osaka gubernatorial election and the general elections for the House of Representatives. His parents contacted authorities to see whether he could mail in his vote, but they were turned down. The suit was filed in June that year.
The government argued that it is rational to restrict those eligible to mail in ballots to ensure the fairness of the election.
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