A WIDER FRANCHISE? - Coggle Diagram
A WIDER FRANCHISE?
Acts that extended the franchise:
Representation of the People Act (1918)
Widened suffrage by abolishing most property qualifications for men
Also widened suffrage by enfranchising women over 30 who met a minimum property qualification - saw the electorage triple in size (reaching over 21 million), 43% of who were women (inflated by loss of men in WW1)
Equal Franchise Act (1928)
Lowered voting age for Women from 31 to 21
Abolished property qualifications, creating equal voting rights for women and men - established universal adult suffrage in the UK
Third Reform Act (1884)
Extended franchise to rural and mining areas - enfranchised virtually all male householders and tenants
Representation of the People Act (1969)
Lowered voting age from 21 to 18, enfranchising 18-20 year-olds.
Second Reform Act (1867)
Gave vote to all settled tenants (men only) in the boroughs - created substantial working-class franchise for the first timew
Post Scottish independence referendum - Scottish Parliament approved proposal to reduce voting age from 18 to 16 for Scottish Parliament elections in 2016 and Scottish local elections in 2017
The Welsh Senedd (Parliament) lowered the voting age in Wales to 16 in 2020 in Welsh Senedd elections
Great Reform Act (1832)
Abolished ‘rotten boroughs’ - enfranchised almost all male Middle-class property owners - increased electorate by 2/3, but still meant that fewer than 6% of the total population could vote.
Suffragists and suffragettes
Second half of 19th century - franchise extended to include more men - growing sense of injustice
1897 - National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (Suffragists) was formed - led by Millicent Fawcett - believed in making change happen through peaceful means and to raise issues in debates in the House of Common
Extending the franchise to 16 & 17 year olds.
Responsibilities without rights - blurred ‘age of majority’
People can leave full-time education to start an apprenticeship etc, consent to sexual relationships, and (with parental consent), join the army, get married, or enter a civil partnership and give full consent to medical treatment all at 16 so should be able to vote
Youth interests ignored - lack of political representation for young people means that their needs, views, and interests are ignored - lowering voting age may give greater attention to issues such as education, drugs policy and social morality.
Stronger political engagement - concern regarding civic engagement focuses on the young (lowest turnout rates 18-24) - lowering voting age would re-engage these voters by strengthening their interest and understanding and helping to reorientate politics around issues more meaningful to younger voters - Scottish Independence Referendum 16-17-year-olds 75% turnout, much higher than 18-24-year-olds 54% turnout
Irrational cut-off age - Citizenship education compulsory in secondary schools since 2002, so 18 being a reflection of intellectual and educational development is flawed - no restrictions are applied to politically ignorant and poorly educated adults - 20,000 young people active in youth councils and over 600 elected Members of Youth Parliament show young people are ready to engage.
Deferred representation - regarding lack of younger representation as political injustice is absurd - unlike women and working classes of old, young people are not permanently denied political representation (only delayed or deferred) - also, 18-year-olds are likely to be broadly in touch with younger interests.
Undermining turnout - possibility that by lowering voting age turnout rates may decline - young voters less likely to vote than older voters so most 16-18-year-olds may choose not to vote - voters who do not vote in their first eligible election are unreliable so might create a generation of abstainers
Immature voters - most young people are in full-time education and live with parents - not full citizens & educational development remains incomplete - 16-18-year-olds unlikely to be interested or knowledgeable in politics.
Preserving ‘childhood’ - campaign to lower voting age is a symptom of a larger trend to erode childhood by forcing adult responsibilities and choices on children and young people - adolescence should be a period where young people can concentrate on school, enjoyment, and personal developments, not voting