The right to vote is the most important political right in international human rights law. Framed within the broader right of political participation, it is the only right in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights not guaranteed as a universal human right but rather as a citizen's right. While limitations on the right to vote are permissible in respect of citizenship and age, residency-based restrictions are not explicitly provided. However, recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights endorse a view that voting rights may be conditioned on residency on the grounds of an individual's bond to their country-of-origin and the extent to which laws passed by that government would affect them. This article questions this proposition and explores whether disenfranchisement based solely on residency constitutes an unreasonable and discriminatory restriction to the essence of the right.
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