Posted on January 8, 2018

Scotland Considers Giving Refugees and Asylum Seekers the Right to Vote

Adam Smith, Metro News, January 6, 2018

The Scottish Government is planning to let refugees and asylum seekers vote in the national elections.

Holyrood in Edinburgh was given new powers over running elections under the 2016 Scotland Act — and ministers are planning widespread changes.

A public consultation has been launched mooting the voting franchise for Scottish Parliament and council elections should include ‘everyone legally resident in Scotland.’

The move is being supported by the Scottish Refugee Council

Now only British, Commonwealth and EU citizens who are resident in Scotland and are 16 or older can vote in Holyrood and council elections.

But Green MSP Ross Greer, the party’s external affairs spokesman, said refugees and asylum seekers who have chosen to come to Scotland should have a voice.

He told the i: ‘Our history of taking in those in need of a safe home is a long one and continues today

‘It was only a few weeks ago we celebrated the 2,000th Syrian refugee to be settled here.

‘What better way could we show refugees and asylum seekers that they truly are welcome and that Scotland is their home than by giving them the right to vote?’

He added: ‘It is only right that all those who live here and are affected by decisions made locally or nationally have a say in choosing those who make the decisions.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: ‘As set out in our Consultation on Electoral Reform, we are seeking views on extending who can vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections, to include more people who are citizens of other countries but who have chosen to live here in Scotland.

‘We agree that Scotland is a welcoming country, and we will carefully consider the call to give asylum seekers and refugees the opportunity to vote in elections where we have power to determine the franchise.’