Earlier today, 8 April 2021, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights filed a challenge to the Election Court in Gaza against the decision of the Central Elections Commission to disenfranchise eligible prison inmates, inpatients, care home residents, and persons under quarantine. Previously, the Commission had held that allowing these categories of constituents to vote would be logistically infeasible in light of current public health concerns and available resources and would raise concerns over the confidentiality of their votes.
According to Article 30 of Decree Law no. 1 of 2007 (on General Elections) and its amendments, “enrolment is a right for each Palestinian who fulfills the requirements of eligibility in accordance with the provisions of this law,” and secondly, the Commission “shall register voters according to the provisions of this law.” Conversely, Al Mezan’s monitoring shows that no clear and declared procedures related to the inclusion of eligible inmates in the electoral registrar were implemented.
Accordingly, on 17 February 2021, Al Mezan called on the Commission to undertake all appropriate procedures to ensure eligible inmates would be able to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming 22 May 2021 elections. Prompted by the Commission’s response on 1 April 2021 that served to confirm that voters would be disenfranchised, Al Mezan proceeded to file an official objection with the Commission; however, the Center was informed on 7 April 2021 that the Commission’s decision was final.
Pursuant to the legal challenge filed under Article 26 of the Palestinian Amended Basic Law and Article 28 of Decree Law no. 1 of 2007, Al Mezan requested that the Court instruct the Central Elections Commission to allow eligible voters in custody and all other eligible voting groups to exercise their right to vote. This should be done in a manner consistent with relevant domestic laws and international standards concerning the maintenance of free, fair, and inclusive democratic processes.