Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Democracy: who should have the right to vote?

The self-governing Welsh colony on the Chubut River in Patagonia, established in the later 1860s, allowed all men and women over 18 to vote.

In Britain, no woman could vote until 1918, and even then it was restricted to women over 30. The minimum voting age for women was reduced to 21 ten years later. The voting age for both sexes was lowered to 18 in 1969, under the premiership of Harold Wilson, who hoped that the young would help him return to office in 1970; he was wrong.

Ironically, the United Kingdom's 1832 Reform Act, designed to correct the corruption of the electoral system, was the first to formally exclude women from voting by including the word "male" in the legislative text. Until then, the right to vote had been largely related to property.

In the United States, the State of New Jersey in 1776 permitted propertied widows to vote; this right was rescinded in 1807.

In 2010, a female Russsian journalist, Yulia Latinyna, argued in the Moscow Times that poor people should not be allowed to vote:

Poor people are capable of feats of bravery and revolution. They can storm the Bastille, overthrow the tsar or stage an Orange Revolution. But impoverished people are incapable of making sober decisions and voting responsibly in a popular election.

It may be that poor people don't want to, anyway. In 1950, the voter turnout for the UK General Election was 83.9%; in 2010 it was 65.1% (up from 59.4% in 2001). In the US, turnout for the Presidential election of 1876 was 81.8%; in 2012, 57.5%.

According to MORI, in the 2010 General Election, 66% of men cast their vote, but only 64% of women. Age, however, is a more significant determinant:

Data: Mori
The "democratic deficit" is getting dangerous. On Zero Hedge, "George Washington" said this week:

"... a May 2013 poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that 29% of registered voters think that armed revolution may be “necessary” in the next couple of years. In other words, the number of Americans who think that armed revolution may be “needed” dwarf the number of Americans who approve of the job that Congress is doing."

Before a call to arms, how about a call to exercise your right to the franchise?

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