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2013年5月31日 (金)

成年被後見人 選挙権の迅速な回復は当然だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 31, 2013
Only natural to restore right to vote for adults under guardianship
成年被後見人 選挙権の迅速な回復は当然だ(5月30日付・読売社説)

The Diet has passed a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law to give the right to vote to adults who are part of the statutory adult guardianship system due to mental disorders or intellectual disabilities.

Passage of the bill will pave the way for 136,000 adult wards with court-designated guardians to vote, starting with the upcoming House of Councillors election in July. We hope as many eligible people as possible will go to polling stations to cast their ballots.

The law had not allowed adults under guardianship to vote because they were considered incapable of making the necessary judgments. The Tokyo District Court ruled this provision unconstitutional in March, saying it violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equality before the law.

This decision prompted the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, New Komeito, to submit the bill to revise the law by eliminating the provision in question. It is significant that the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors unanimously passed the bill, as the opposition camp went along with the ruling parties. It is also noteworthy that the Diet made a prompt response just a little more than two months after the ruling.

Uniform ban unfair

People to whom the adult guardianship system applies have different levels of disabilities. The plaintiff in the suit, an intellectually challenged woman, is able to read and write simple characters and communicate with others.

It was unreasonable that the provision uniformly deprived people of the right to vote once they are placed under the adult guardianship system.

Under the revised law, it will be important to implement measures to prevent the disabled under guardianship from getting involved in voting irregularities.

The revised law includes a measure against attempts to induce such people to vote for particular candidates.

The provision requires two assistants to act on behalf of a voter who cannot fill in a ballot on his or her own--one who writes for the person and the other who checks the ballot. It also stipulates that only municipal government officials should serve as assistants.

This means that family members or others who attend to these voters cannot assist them with casting.

Even though the upper house election is coming up, we hope local election boards will take every possible step to secure enough officials and implement other necessary measures so they can provide voters under guardianship with adequate support at polling stations.

The revised law also includes a nonbinding provision that encourages observers chosen by election boards to be present for absentee voting conducted at hospitals, nursing facilities and other locations. It is aimed at preventing facility officials from voting for particular candidates on behalf of residents without their consent.

Many local govts not ready

The revised law does not make this provision mandatory, making it nonbinding instead, because many local governments are believed not to be ready to fully comply with this directive.

However, some local governments have been preparing for the measure. The Tokyo Metropolitan Election Administration Commission, for example, plans to dispatch observers to about 1,200 facilities for absentee balloting. Other election boards are urged to take positive action on this issue.

Nevertheless, we have difficulty understanding why the government has yet to dismiss its appeal against the district court ruling.

At a press conference following the government’s appeal in late March, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshitaka Shindo expressed his view that the plaintiff, not the government, would drop the case.
“The case would become meaningless if the Diet passes necessary legislation,” Shindo said.

The plaintiff had no choice but to file a lawsuit and the district court acknowledged her claims. The government’s response cannot be called anything but dishonest. It is reasonable for the government to drop its appeal.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 30, 2013)
(2013年5月30日02時06分  読売新聞)


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