The legislation will also extend to around 55,000 foreign nationals legally resident in Scotland, including refugees and successful asylum seekers.
The Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill follows the move to give voting rights to 16 and 17-year-olds.
It will include measures that would allow prisoners serving sentences of 12 months or less to cast their ballot.
According to the most recent figures from 2017/18, this would include 101 violent criminals convicted of attempted murder or serious assault and 73 robbers.
There were also 98 sexual offenders sentenced to 12 months or less, as well as 329 people convicted of handling offensive weapons and 479 drug offenders.
There is a blanket ban that prevents convicted prisoners from voting in the UK but the European Court of Human Rights ruled against this 15 years ago.
Ever since, successive governments north and south of the Border have resisted changing the law and the Scottish Government blocked prisoners from taking part in the 2014 independence referendum.
At the time, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The government is very clear that we don’t think convicted prisoners who are serving a prison sentence should be able to vote in a referendum process.”
Last night, Scottish Lib Dem justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP welcomed the “U-turn” by the SNP and called for the rest of the UK to follow.
He said: “The blanket ban flouts international law and no other developed European democracy does it. It isn’t fair, progressive or in the interests of rehabilitation.
We know to reduce re-offending we need to make people more aware of their responsibilities as citizens, instead of alienating them.”
However, Scottish Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “We look forward to engaging fully in this Bill, and to seeking agreement where possible on the franchise.
“We do remain firmly opposed to prisoner voting, regardless of how long they’ve been inside for.”
Parliamentary Business Manager Graeme Dey said ministers had decided not to extend voting rights to all prisoners. He said: “We are confident that restricting prisoner voting to those serving sentences of less than 12 months means we can comply with the court’s ruling.
“This measure will also support rehabilitation and reintegration back in to society in order to reduce re-offending.”
Mr Dey added that it was “only fair” foreign nationals living in Scotland could vote and stand in Scottish Parliament and Scottish council elections.
It would not apply in UK general elections, where the franchise is controlled by Westminster.
Mr Dey said: “Scotland has already led the way by lowering the voting age to 16 and we are building on this progress by extending the right to vote to everyone legally resident here.
“Extending voting rights to all citizens with a legal right to residency demonstrates Scotland’s commitment to equally value everyone who chooses to make our country their home, and is a demonstration of the kind of Scotland we are seeking
“It is only fair that foreign nationals with the permanent right to live here, whether from EU countries or elsewhere, have the right to vote and stand as candidates in devolved elections.”
The Scottish Government carried out a public consultation on the plans last year and Mr Dey said there was majority support for giving foreign nationals the vote.
It also found one in three were against prison voting, with a third backing the 12-month option and a third calling for all prisoners being given the vote.
Gary Robertson, of Alloa Spiritualist Church, was typical of those who opposed the move. He wrote: “A prison sentence means that you are being punished and lose all your rights as an individual, no matter what the crime was.”
Wife-beater, stalker and paedophile would have vote
A WIFE-beating politician, a paedophile, an axe-wielding thug and a stalking police officer are among those who would all be eligible to vote in upcoming elections if the SNP’s new plan gets the go-ahead.
They provide a stark example of just what implications the idea will have for society.
Former MSP Bill Walker was jailed for 12 months after being convicted of a series of domestic abuse offences.
The 71-year-old from Alloa was found guilty in September 2013 of attacking three former wives and a step-daughter between 1967 and 1995. Sheriff Katherine Mackie told the former independent MSP for Dunfermline that he was in “extreme denial”.
In 2014, Alexander Mitchell from Easter Ross, was jailed for a year after admitting having sex with two 13-year-olds. But, while on bail for those offences, he raped a 12-year-old girl.
Mitchell, 23, was then jailed for six years after admitting the offence.
Another example of the risk posed is illustrated by the case of an ex-policewoman who became “fixated” with a married man.
Ashley Boyd targeted Kevin O’Connor, who was the husband of her former friend.
In September, 2017, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard how the 27-year-old hacked her social media account and posted offensive comments during a course of stalking.
Boyd, from Moodiesburn, Lanarkshire, pleaded guilty to “engaging in a course of conduct which caused Rhona and Kevin O’Connor fear and alarm”.
Sheriff Paul Crozier blasted the “evil and calculated” act of destruction and jailed her for 11 months.
In March, Jack Andrews was jailed for a year after admitting possessing an offensive weapon and acting in a threatening or abusive manner.
A court heard how the 21-year-old was seen wielding the weapon on a Glasgow East End street.
Grammy Award-winning conductor, Joseph Cullen, inset, was also given a 12-month sentence in 2015 after sexually abusing two choirboys.
He groomed his victims while involved with St Aloysius Church and St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow.
The 55-year-old admitted charges of lewd conduct. In 2018, he was jailed for 10 months for similar offences.
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