In contrast to both the UK and the US, where prisoners are denied the right to vote whilst incarcerated, German election officials in the country’s 195 jails are preparing to distribute postal voting papers to approximately 73,600 prisoners.
“We have the duty to ensure that everyone gets a chance to take part in the election,” elections officer for Tegel prison outside Berlin, Brigit Heumann, told news agency DDP.
A few prisoners with special privileges will be allowed out on election day to cast their votes at polling stations. But in other special cases, such as inmates serving sentences for crimes such as espionage or treason, prisoners who have been denied their state rights will not be allowed to vote, Berlin Senate Office for Justice spokesman Bernard Shodrowski said.
Meanwhile election officers are informing prisoners of the campaign issues well before election day.
“We are distributing information leaflets throughout central locations, for prisoners to take away with them,” Heumann added.
But party information can only be accessed via through newspapers, television and radio.
“We don’t have election campaign adverts here, like posters or placards,” said Heumann.
Officers will ensure prisoner voting rights for prisoners, including help with registration, Heumann added. Prisoners who fail to get their ballot in the mail on time will even get their envelopes delivered by messenger.
“Inmates are generally more interested in this election than they are in smaller elections or referendums. In comparison to the average voter, though, they are perhaps less concerned,” Heumann said.