Legal and technical barriers to voting

AuthorEuropean Economic and Social Committee
To protect the interests of citizens with
intellectual disabilities or mental health
problems, EU countries allow for types
of legal guardianship based on the
capabilities of their wards.
For example, plenary guardians make
almost all decisions for their ward, while
partial guardians make some decisions,
depending on the individual.
In nine EU countries, the legal system
automatically revokes the voting rights
of persons under plenary guardianship
while in seven depriving a person of
the right to vote is possible based on a
court’s assessment of the individual. In
11 EU countries, an individual cannot be
deprived of the right to vote under any
circumstances. The number of persons
with disabilities who cannot vote varies
widely by country.
In Portugal, around 100 persons with
disabilities cannot exercise their right
to vote, while in other countries, the
number could be as high as around
300000 people.
In recent years, EU countries have tended
to move away from automatically
revoking voting rights. Instead, national
legal systems more often limit those
rights in a small number of instances,
decided by a court on a case-by-case
basis. Some countries have abolished all
The European Parliament and other
EU institutions should help to accelerate
this change in Member State legal
systems, with the goal of abolishing
all legal restrictions on the rights of
persons with disabilities to vote, the
report proposes.
Breaking down the barriers 11
Breaking down the barriers 11

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