Peter Chester, serving a life term in an English prison, and George McGeoch, an inmate in Scotland, both argued that decisions by the European Court of Human Rights give them the right to vote, The Guardian reported. The European court ruled Britain cannot deny prisoners the vote.
Parliament has not yet decided whether to change the British law or ignore the European court.
The court said McGeoch, who has been convicted of taking a prison nurse hostage since he was imprisoned for murder, and Chester, who strangled his 7-year-old niece, might be denied the vote even if the law is changed because the European decision allows countries to exclude those guilty of serious crimes.
"Eligibility to vote in member states is basically a matter for national legislatures," the court said.
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