Voting in politics

Voting in politics

Yes, voting just sort of happened, really. Maybe. There might have been some women throwing themselves in front of racehorses, too. Find out more about the history of the vote, because it’s genuinely rather interesting. Tick the box right here…

Voting, that’s a basic human right, isn’t it? One that can be squandered and ignored and, well, one shouldn’t vote for politicians, as it only encourages them. Which is all kinda true, and also, kinda not. The right to vote has a long history, most of which has been pretty much all about making sure that very few people have that right.

When the first parliament met, back in 1265, it was decided that it would be wrong to just enforce its laws on the country, without giving the populace some sort of say. So they decreed that the Counties and Boroughs should elect their representatives.

Though, obviously, they didn’t want any old riff-raff attending, so the vote was restricted to just any man who owned land. Not that that created any level of bias whatsoever.

As a freethinking and progressive country, that right was quickly extended. In less than 600 years adult males who rented land over a certain value were also allowed to vote. This extended the vote to a whopping 1 in 7 males in the country. Not quite one man, one vote. Especially as a voter who owned property in one area, but lived in another, for example to study, could vote in both ballots.

As the Industrial Revolution had, well, revolutionised the country and more and more people were getting a decent, or indeed any, education, more and more people started wanting the vote. So in 1867, the vote was granted to all male householders in towns and cities, and in 1884 this was extended to countryside. This gave a voting population of roughly five and a half million.

A nice big number, but still just 40% of the adult male population. Not one woman in the country could vote.

The First World War has a lot to answer for, but it did make the Government realise that it maybe was still rather restrictive and that maybe all those women in big hats chaining themselves to fences – or running in front of horses at Ascot – maybe, just maybe, had a point. And so, in 1918, restrictions on property rights were lifted for men, and every man over 21 was given the vote.

Women were also given the vote. Naturally not all of them, just the ones who owned property (more common after the slaughter of the Great War’s battlefields) and over 30.

In 1928, women were given equal voting rights as men, so every woman over 21 could vote. In 1948, the loop hole allowing people more than one vote each was closed. In 1969 the age at which people could vote was dropped to 18.

And after all that, you’d think we’d be eager to vote, but many people don’t like to. It’s a hassle, it’s too much bother and purposefully not voting can be considered a protest.

But as a protest message, not voting is one that doesn’t work. It’s not heard and it’s treated as voter apathy. So next time, I’ll explain how not to vote.

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