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Prisoners should be enfranchised

I agree with Trevor Rigg regarding the absurdity of the debate on prisoner's voting (Letters, November 23).

Nearly all of our European neighbours allow at least some prisoners to vote and most allow all of them to do so. Some countries, such as Germany, open polling stations in prisons and governors are instructed to encourage inmates to vote as part of the rehabilitation process.

Much of the debate involves language I find uncomfortable, suggesting the franchise is something that should be "given", needs to be "deserved" and is a "privilege". None of this is correct. For democracy to be meaningful the vote must be a universal right that cannot be lost so long as a person remains a resident and/or citizen, need never be earned and should never have to be justified. Prisoners are not a particularly popular group, but this is irrelevant, for the most part they are still citizens and removing their vote undermines the universal basis of the franchise and as such is incompatible with democracy.

All prisoners, regardless of their crime and sentence, should be enfranchised and the matter put to bed.

Iain Paterson,

2F Killermont View, Glasgow.

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