Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote).[1][2][3] In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called active suffrage, as distinct from passive suffrage, which is the right to stand for election.[4] The combination of active and passive suffrage is sometimes called full suffrage.[5]

Suffrage is often conceived in terms of elections for representatives. However, suffrage applies equally to referenda and initiatives. Suffrage describes not only the legal right to vote, but also the practical question of whether a question will be put to a vote. The utility of suffrage is reduced when important questions are decided unilaterally without extensive, conscientious, full disclosure and public review.

In most democracies, eligible voters can vote in elections of representatives. Voting on issues by referendum may also be available. For example, in Switzerland this is permitted at all levels of government. In the United States, some states such as California and Washington have exercised their shared sovereignty to offer citizens the opportunity to write, propose, and vote on referendums and initiatives; other states and the federal government have not. Referendums in the United Kingdom are rare.

Suffrage is granted to qualifying citizens once they have reached the voting age. What constitutes a qualifying citizen depends on the government's decision. Resident non-citizens can vote in some countries, which may be restricted to citizens of closely linked countries (e.g., Commonwealth citizens and European Union citizens) or to certain offices or questions.[6]

Suffrage universel 1848
Suffrage universel dédié à Ledru-Rollin, Frédéric Sorrieu, 1850


The word suffrage comes from Latin suffragium, meaning "vote", "political support", and the right to vote.[7][8][9] The etymology of the Latin word is uncertain, with some sources citing Latin suffragari "lend support, vote for someone", from sub "under" + fragor "crash, din, shouts (as of approval)", related to frangere "to break" (related to fraction and fractious "quarrelsome"). Other sources say that attempts to connect suffragium with fragor cannot be taken seriously.[10] Some etymologists think the word may be related to suffrago and may have originally meant an ankle bone or knuckle bone.[10]


Universal suffrage

Universal suffrage consists of the right to vote without restriction due to sex, race, social status, education level, or wealth. It typically does not extend the right to vote to all residents of a region; distinctions are frequently made in regard to citizenship, age, and occasionally mental capacity or criminal convictions.

The short-lived Corsican Republic (1755–1769) was the first country to grant limited universal suffrage to all citizens over the age of 25.

In 1819 60-80,000 men and women from 30 miles around Manchester assembled in the city's St. Peter's Square to protest their lack of any representation in the Houses of Parliament. Historian Robert Poole has called the Peterloo Massacre one of the defining moments of its age.[11]. The film Peterloo (The Movie) featured a scene of women suffragists planning their contribution to the protest.

This was followed by other experiments in the Paris Commune of 1871 and the island republic of Franceville (1889). The 1840 constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai'i granted universal suffrage to all male and female adults. In 1893, when the Kingdom of Hawai'i was overthrown in a coup, New Zealand became the only independent country to practice universal (active) suffrage, and the Freedom in the World index lists New Zealand as the only free country in the world in 1893.[12][13]

Women's suffrage

SPD-Plakat 1919
German election poster from 1919: Equal rights – equal duties!

Women's suffrage is, by definition, the right of women to vote.[14] This was the goal of the suffragists, who believed in using legal means and the suffragettes, who used extremist measures. Short-lived suffrage equity was drafted into provisions of the State of New Jersey's first, 1776 Constitution, which extended the Right to Vote to unwed female landholders & black land owners.

"IV. That all inhabitants of this Colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money, clear estate in the same, and have resided within the county in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote for Representatives in Council and Assembly; and also for all other public officers, that shall be elected by the people of the county at large." New Jersey 1776

However, the document did not specify an Amendment procedure, and the provision was subsequently replaced in 1844 by the adoption of the succeeding constitution, which reverted to "all white male" suffrage restrictions.[15]

Although the Kingdom of Hawai'i granted female suffrage in 1840, the right was rescinded in 1852. Limited voting rights were gained by some women in Sweden, Britain, and some western U.S. states in the 1860s. In 1893, the British colony of New Zealand became the first self-governing nation to extend the right to vote to all adult women. In 1894 the women of South Australia achieved the right to both vote and stand for Parliament. The autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in the Russian Empire was the first nation to allow all women to both vote and run for parliament.[16]

Anti-Women's Suffrage Propaganda

Those against the women's suffrage movement made public organizations to put down the political movement, with the main argument being that a woman's place was in the home, not polls. Political cartoons and public outrage over women's rights increased as the opposition to suffrage worked day and night to organize legitimate groups campaigning against women's voting rights. The Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women was one organization that came out of the 1880's to put down the voting efforts[17].

Many anti-suffrage propaganda poked fun at the idea of women in politics. Political cartoons displayed the most sentiment by portraying the issue of women's suffrage to be swapped with men's lives. Some mocked the popular suffrage hairstyle of full-upward combed hair. Others depicted young girls turning into suffragettes after a failure in life, such as not being married[18].

Equal suffrage

Equal suffrage is sometimes confused with Universal suffrage, although the meaning of the former is the removal of graded votes, wherein a voter could possess a number of votes in accordance with income, wealth or social status.[19]

Census suffrage

Also known as "censitary suffrage", the opposite of equal suffrage, meaning that the votes cast by those eligible to vote are not equal, but are weighed differently according to the person's rank in the census (e.g., people with higher education have more votes than those with lower education, or a stockholder in a company with more shares has more votes than someone with fewer shares). Suffrage may therefore be limited, but can still be universal.

Compulsory suffrage

Where compulsory suffrage exists, those who are eligible to vote are required by law to do so. Thirty-two countries currently practise this form of suffrage.[20]

Business vote

In local government in England and some of its ex-colonies, businesses formerly had, and in some places still have, a vote in the urban area in which they paid rates. This is an extension of the historical property-based franchise from natural persons to other legal persons.

In the United Kingdom, the Corporation of the City of London has retained and even expanded business vote, following the passing of the City of London (Ward Elections) Act 2002. This has given business interests within the City of London, which is a major financial centre with few residents, the opportunity to apply the accumulated wealth of the corporation to the development of an effective lobby for UK policies.[21][22] This includes having the City Remembrancer, financed by the City's Cash, as a Parliamentary agent, provided with a special seat in the House of Commons located in the under-gallery facing the Speaker's chair.[23] In a leaked document from 2012, an official report concerning the City's Cash revealed that the aim of major occasions such as set-piece sumptious banquets featuring national politicians was "to increase the emphasis on complementing hospitality with business meetings consistent with the City corporation's role in supporting the City as a financial centre". [24]

The first issue taken up by the Northern Ireland civil rights movement was the business vote, abolished in 1968.[25]

In the Republic of Ireland, commercial ratepayers[nb 1] can vote in local plebiscites, for changing the name of the locality or street,[27][nb 2] or delimiting a business improvement district.[30] From 1930 to 1935, 5 of 35 members of Dublin City Council were "commercial members".[31]

In cities in most Australian states, voting is optional for businesses but compulsory for individuals.[32][33]

Forms of exclusion from suffrage


In the aftermath of the Reformation it was common in European countries for people of disfavored religious denominations to be denied civil and political rights, often including the right to vote, to stand for election or to sit in parliament. In Great Britain and Ireland, Roman Catholics were denied the right to vote from 1728 to 1793, and the right to sit in parliament until 1829. The anti-Catholic policy was justified on the grounds that the loyalty of Catholics supposedly lay with the Pope rather than the national monarch.

In England and Ireland, several Acts practically disenfranchised non-Anglicans or non-Protestants by imposing an oath before admission to vote or to stand for office. The 1672 and 1678 Test Acts forbade non-Anglicans to hold public offices, and the 1727 Disenfranchising Act took away Catholics' voting rights in Ireland, which were restored only in 1788. Jews could not even be naturalized. An attempt was made to change this situation, but the Jewish Naturalization Act 1753 provoked such reactions that it was repealed the following year. Nonconformists (Methodists and Presbyterians) were only allowed to run for election to the British House of Commons starting in 1828, Catholics in 1829 (following the Catholic Relief Act 1829, which extended the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791), and Jews in 1858 (with the Emancipation of the Jews in England). Benjamin Disraeli could only begin his political career in 1837 because he had been converted to Anglicanism at the age of 12.

In several states in the U.S. after the Declaration of Independence, Jews, Quakers or Catholics were denied voting rights and/or forbidden to run for office.[34] The Delaware Constitution of 1776 stated that "Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall (…) also make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."[35] This was repealed by article I, section 2 of the 1792 Constitution: "No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, under this State".[36] The 1778 Constitution of the State of South Carolina stated that "No person shall be eligible to sit in the house of representatives unless he be of the Protestant religion",[37] the 1777 Constitution of the State of Georgia (art. VI) that "The representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county (…) and they shall be of the Protestent (sic) religion".[38] In Maryland, voting rights and eligibility were extended to Jews in 1828.[39]

In Canada, several religious groups (Mennonites, Hutterites, Doukhobors) were disenfranchised by the wartime Elections Act of 1917, mainly because they opposed military service. This disenfranchisement ended with the closure of the First World War, but was renewed for Doukhobors from 1934 (via the Dominion Elections Act) to 1955.[40]

The first Constitution of modern Romania in 1866 provided in article 7 that only Christians could become Romanian citizens. Jews native to Romania were declared stateless persons. In 1879, under pressure from the Berlin Peace Conference, this article was amended, granting non-Christians the right to become Romanian citizens, but naturalization was granted on a case-by-case basis and was subject to Parliamentary approval. An application took over ten years to process. Only in 1923 was a new constitution adopted, whose article 133 extended Romanian citizenship to all Jewish residents and equality of rights to all Romanian citizens.[41]

Wealth, tax class, social class

Until the nineteenth century, many Western proto-democracies had property qualifications in their electoral laws; e.g. only landowners could vote (because the only tax for such countries was the property tax), or the voting rights were weighted according to the amount of taxes paid (as in the Prussian three-class franchise). Most countries abolished the property qualification for national elections in the late nineteenth century, but retained it for local government elections for several decades. Today these laws have largely been abolished, although the homeless may not be able to register because they lack regular addresses.

In the United Kingdom, until the House of Lords Act 1999, peers who were members of the House of Lords were excluded from voting for the House of Commons because they were not commoners. Although there is nothing to prevent the monarch from voting it is considered unconstitutional for the monarch to vote in an election.[42]

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, many nations made voters pay on to elect officials, keeping impoverished people from being fully enfranchised. These laws were in effect in: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[43]


Sometimes the right to vote has been limited to people who had achieved a certain level of education or passed a certain test. In some US states, "literacy tests" were previously implemented to exclude those who were illiterate.[44] This disproportionately affected poor and black people, who were systemically denied access to the same educational opportunities as the white and rich people.[45] Under the 1961 constitution of Rhodesia, voting on the "A" roll, which elected up to 50 of the 65 members of parliament, was restricted based on education requirements, which in practice led to an overwhelming white vote. Voting on the "B" roll had universal suffrage, but only appointed 15 members of parliament.[46]

In the 20th century, many countries other than the US placed voting restrictions on illiterate people, including: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.[43]


Various countries, usually countries with a dominant race within a wider population, have historically denied the vote to people of particular races, or to all but the dominant race. This has been achieved in a number of ways:

  • Official – laws and regulations passed specifically disenfranchising people of particular races (for example, the Antebellum United States, Boer republics, pre-apartheid and apartheid South Africa, or many colonial political systems, who provided suffrage only for white settlers and some privileged non-white groups). Canada and Australia denied suffrage for their indigenous populations until the 1960s.
  • Indirect – nothing in law specifically prevents anyone from voting on account of their race, but other laws or regulations are used to exclude people of a particular race. In southern states of the United States of America before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, poll taxes, literacy and other tests were used to disenfranchise African-Americans.[44][47] Property qualifications have tended to disenfranchise a minority race, particularly if tribally owned land is not allowed to be taken into consideration. In some cases this was an unintended (but usually welcome) consequence. Many African colonies after World War II until decolonization had tough education and property qualifications which practically gave meaningful representation only for rich European minorities.
  • Unofficial – nothing in law prevents anyone from voting on account of their race, but people of particular races are intimidated or otherwise prevented from exercising this right. This was a common tactic employed by white Southerners against Freedmen during the Reconstruction Era and the following period before more formal methods of disenfranchisement became entrenched. Unofficial discrimination could even manifest in ways which, while allowing the act of voting itself, effectively deprive it of any value – for example, in Israel, the country's Arab minority has maintained a party-system separate from that of the Jewish majority. in the run-up for the country's 2015 elections, the electoral threshold was raised from 2% to 3.25%, thus forcing the dominant Arab parties – Hadash, the United Arab List, Balad and Ta'al – either to run under one list or risk losing their parliamentary representation.


All modern democracies require voters to meet age qualifications to vote. Worldwide voting ages are not consistent, differing between countries and even within countries, though the range usually varies between 16 and 21 years. Demeny voting has been proposed as a form of proxy voting by parents on behalf of their children who are below the age of suffrage. The movement to lower the voting age is one aspect of the Youth rights movement.


Many countries restrict the voting rights of convicted criminals. Some countries, and some U.S. states, also deny the right to vote to those convicted of serious crimes even after they are released from prison. In some cases (e.g. the felony disenfranchisement laws found in many U.S. states) the denial of the right to vote is automatic upon a felony conviction; in other cases (e.g. France and Germany) deprivation of the vote is meted out separately, and often limited to perpetrators of specific crimes such as those against the electoral system or corruption of public officials. In the Republic of Ireland, prisoners are allowed the right to vote, following the Hirst v UK (No2) ruling, which was granted in 2006. Canada allowed only prisoners serving a term of less than 2 years the right to vote, but this was found to be unconstitutional in 2002 by the Supreme Court of Canada in Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer), and all prisoners have been allowed to vote as of the 2004 Canadian federal election.


Under certain electoral systems elections are held within subnational jurisdictions, thus preventing persons from voting who would otherwise be eligible on the basis that they do not reside within such a jurisdiction, or because they live in an area that cannot participate. In the United States, residents of Washington, D.C. receive no voting representation in Congress, although they do have full representation in presidential elections, based on the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution adopted in 1961. Residents of Puerto Rico enjoy neither.

Sometimes citizens become ineligible to vote because they are no longer resident in their country of citizenship. For example, Australian citizens who have been outside Australia for more than one and fewer than six years may excuse themselves from the requirement to vote in Australian elections while they remain outside Australia (voting in Australia is compulsory for resident citizens).[48] Danish citizens that reside permanently outside Denmark lose their right to vote.[49]

In some cases, a certain period of residence in a locality may required for the right to vote in that location. For example, in the United Kingdom up to 2001, each 15 February a new electoral register came into effect, based on registration as of the previous 10 October, with the effect of limiting voting to those resident five to seventeen months earlier depending on the timing of the election.


In most countries, suffrage is limited to citizens and, in many cases, permanent residents of that country. However, some members of supra-national organisations such as the Commonwealth of Nations and the European Union have granted voting rights to citizens of all countries within that organisation. Until the mid-twentieth century, many Commonwealth countries gave the vote to all British citizens within the country, regardless of whether they were normally resident there. In most cases this was because there was no distinction between British and local citizenship. Several countries qualified this with restrictions preventing non-white British citizens such as Indians and British Africans from voting. Under European Union law, citizens of European Union countries can vote in each other's local and European Parliament elections on the same basis as citizens of the country in question, but usually not in national elections.


In some countries, naturalized citizens do not have the right to vote or to be a candidate, either permanently or for a determined period.

Article 5 of the 1831 Belgian Constitution made a difference between ordinary naturalization, and grande naturalisation. Only (former) foreigners who had been granted grande naturalisation were entitled to vote, be a candidate for parliamentary elections, or be appointed minister. However, ordinary naturalized citizens could vote for municipal elections.[50] Ordinary naturalized citizens and citizens who had acquired Belgian nationality through marriage could vote, but not run as candidates for parliamentary elections in 1976. The concepts of ordinary and grande naturalization were suppressed from the Constitution in 1991.[51]

In France, the 1889 Nationality Law barred those who had acquired the French nationality by naturalization or marriage from voting, and from eligibility and access to several public jobs. In 1938 the delay was reduced to five years.[52] [clarification needed] These instances of discrimination, as well as others against naturalized citizens, were gradually abolished in 1973 (9 January 1973 law) and 1983.

In Morocco, a former French protectorate, and in Guinea, a former French colony, naturalized citizens are prohibited from voting for five years following their naturalization.[53][54]

In the Federated States of Micronesia, one must be a Micronesian citizen for at least 15 years to run for parliament.[55]

In Nicaragua, Peru and the Philippines, only citizens by birth are eligible for being elected to the national legislature; naturalized citizens enjoy only voting rights.[56][57][58]

In Uruguay, naturalized citizens have the right of eligibility to the parliament after five years.[59]

In the United States, the President and Vice President must be natural-born citizens. All other governmental offices may be held by any citizen, although citizens may only run for Congress after an extended period of citizenship (seven years for the House of Representatives and nine for the Senate).


In France, an 1872 law, rescinded only by a 1945 decree, prohibited all army personnel from voting.[60]

In Ireland, police (the Garda Síochána and, before 1925, the Dublin Metropolitan Police) were barred from voting in national elections, though not local elections, from 1923 to 1960.[61]

The 1876 Constitution of Texas (article VI, section 1) stated that "The following classes of persons shall not be allowed to vote in this State, to wit: (…) Fifth—All soldiers, marines and seamen, employed in the service of the army or navy of the United States."[62]

In many countries with a presidential system of government a person is forbidden to be a legislator and an official of the executive branch at the same time. Such provisions are found, for example, in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

History around the world

In 1840, the Kingdom of Hawai'i adopted full suffrage to all adults, including women, but in 1852 rescinded female voting. In 1902 the Commonwealth Franchise Act enabled women to vote federally in Australia and in the state of New South Wales. This legislation also allowed women to run for government, making Australia the first in the world to allow this. In 1906 Finland became the next nation in the world to give all adult citizens full suffrage, in other words the right to vote and to run for office. New Zealand granted all adult citizens the right to vote (in 1893), but women did not get the right to run for the New Zealand legislature until 1919.


  • 1855 — South Australia is first colony to allow all male suffrage to British subjects (later extended to Indigenous males) over the age of 21.
  • 1894 – South Australian women eligible to vote.[63]
  • 1896 — Tasmania becomes last colony to allow all male suffrage.
  • 1899 – Western Australian women eligible to vote.[63]
  • 1902 – The Commonwealth Franchise Act enables women to vote federally and in the state of New South Wales. This legislation also allows women to run for government, making Australia the first democratic state in the world to allow this.
  • 1921 – Edith Cowan is elected to the West Australian Legislative Assembly as member for West Perth, the first woman elected to any Australian Parliament.[64]
  • 1962 – Aboriginal peoples guaranteed the right to vote in Commonwealth elections, however, in practice this right was dependent on Aboriginal voting rights having been granted by the individual's respective state.
  • 1965 - Queensland is the last state to grant voting rights to Aboriginal Australians.


  • 1824 – The first Brazilian constitution allows free men over the age of 25 to vote, but there are income restrictions. The House of Deputies' representatives are chosen via electoral colleges.
  • 1881 – The Saraiva Law implements direct voting, but there are income restrictions. Women and slaves do not have the right to vote.
  • 1932 – Voting becomes obligatory for all adults over 21 years of age, unlimited by gender or income.
  • 1955 – Adoption of standardized voting ballots and identification requirements to mitigate frauds.
  • 1964 – Military regime established. From then on, presidents were elected by members of the congress, chosen by regular vote.
  • 1989 – Reestablishment of universal suffrage for all citizens over 16 years of age. People considered illiterate are not obliged to vote, nor are people younger than 18 and older than 70 years of age. People under the obligation rule shall file a document to justify their absence should they not vote.
  • 2000 – Brazil becomes the first country to fully adopt electronic ballots in their voting process.


  • 1871 – One of the first acts of the new Province of British Columbia strips the franchise from First Nations, and ensures Chinese and Japanese people are prevented from voting.
  • 1916 – Manitoba becomes the first province in which women have the right to vote in provincial elections.[65][66]
  • 1917 – Wartime Elections Act gives voting rights to women with relatives fighting overseas. Voting rights are stripped from all "enemy aliens" (those born in enemy countries who arrived in Canada after 1902; see also Ukrainian Canadian internment).[67] Military Voters Act gives the vote to all soldiers, even non-citizens, (with the exception of Indian and Metis veterans)[68] and to women serving as nurses or clerks for the armed forces, but the votes are not for specific candidates but simply for or against the government.
  • 1918 – Women gain full voting rights in federal elections.[69]
  • 1919 – Women gain the right to run for federal office.[69]
  • 1940 – Quebec becomes the last province where women's right to vote is recognized.

(see Canadian women during the world wars for more information on Canadian suffrage)

  • 1947 – Racial exclusions against Chinese and Indo-Canadians lifted.
  • 1948 – Racial exclusions against Japanese Canadians lifted.[70]
  • 1955[71] – Religious exclusions are removed from election laws.
  • 1960 – Right to vote is extended unconditionally to First Nations peoples. (Previously they could vote only by giving up their status as First Nations people.)[72]
  • 1960 – Right to vote in advance is extended to all electors willing to swear they would be absent on election day.[73]
  • 1965 – First Nations people granted the right to vote in Alberta provincial elections, starting with the Alberta general election, 1967.[72]
  • 1969 – First Nations people granted the right to vote in Quebec provincial elections, starting with the Quebec general election, 1970.[72]
  • 1970 – Voting age lowered from 21 to 18.[74]
  • 1982 – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all adult citizens the right to vote.
  • 1988 – Supreme Court of Canada rules mentally ill patients have the right to vote.[75]
  • 1993[71] – Any elector can vote in advance.
  • 2000 – Legislation is introduced making it easier for people of no fixed address to vote.
  • 2002 – Prisoners given the right to vote in the riding (voting district) where they were convicted. All adult Canadians except the Chief and Deputy Electoral Officers can now vote in Canada.[76]
  • 2019 - The Supreme Court of Canada rules that portions of the Canada Elections Act which prevent citizens who have been living abroad for more than five years from voting by mail are in violation of Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and thus unconstitutional.[77]

European Union

The European Union has given the right to vote in municipal elections to the citizen of another EU country by the Council Directive 94/80/EG from the 19th of December 1994.[78]


  • 1906 – Full suffrage for all citizens adults aged 24 or older at beginning of voting year.
  • 1921 – Suppression of property-based number of votes on municipal level; equal vote for everybody.
  • 1944 – Voting age lowered to 21 years.
  • 1969 – Voting age lowered to 20 years.
  • 1972 – Voting age lowered to 18 years.
  • 1981 – Voting and eligibility rights were granted to Nordic Passport Union country citizens without residency condition for municipal elections.
  • 1991 – Voting and eligibility rights were extended to all foreign residents in 1991 with a two-year residency condition for municipal elections.
  • 1995 – Residency requirement abolished for EU residents, in conformity with European legislation (Law 365/95, confirmed by Electoral Law 714/1998).
  • 1996 – Voting age lowered to 18 years at date of voting.
  • 2000 – Section 14, al. 2 of the 2000 Constitution of Finland states that "Every Finnish citizen and every foreigner permanently resident in Finland, having attained eighteen years of age, has the right to vote in municipal elections and municipal referendums, as provided by an Act. Provisions on the right to otherwise participate in municipal government are laid down by an Act."[79]


  • 11 August 1792 : Introduction of universal suffrage (men only)
  • 1795 : Universal suffrage for men is replaced with indirect Census suffrage
  • 13 December 1799: The French Consulate re-establishes male universal suffrage increased from 246,000 to over 9 million.
  • In 1850 (31 May): The number of people eligible to vote is reduced by 30% by excluding criminals and the homeless.
  • Napoleon III calls a referendum in 1851 (21 December), all men aged 21 and over are allowed to vote. Male universal suffrage is established thereafter.
  • As of 21 April 1944 the franchise is extended to women over 21
  • On 5 July 1974 the minimum age to vote is reduced to 18 years old.

Kingdom of Hawai'i

In 1840, the king of Hawai'i issued a constitution that granted universal suffrage, both for females and males, but later amendments added restrictions, as the influence of Caucasian settlers increased:

  • 1852 - Women lost the right to vote, and the minimum voting age was specified as 20.
  • 1864 - Voting was restricted on the basis of new qualifications—literacy and either a certain level of income or property ownership.
  • 1887 - Citizens of Hawai'i with Asian descent were disqualified. There was an increase in the minimum value of income or owned property.

Hawai'i lost its independence in 1893, when American marines landed and forced the reigning queen to abdicate.

Hong Kong

Minimum age to vote was reduced from 21 to 18 years in 1995. The Basic Law, the constitution of the territory since 1997, stipulates that all permanent residents (a status conferred by birth or by seven years of residence) have the right to vote. The right of permanent residents who have right of abode in other countries to stand in election is, however, restricted to 12 functional constituencies by the Legislative Council Ordinance of 1997.

The right to vote and the right to stand in elections are not equal. Fewer than 250,000 of the electorate are eligible to run in the 30 functional constituencies, of which 23 are elected by fewer than 80,000 of the electorate, and in the 2008 Legislative Council election 14 members were elected unopposed from these functional constituencies. The size of the electorates of some constituencies is fewer than 200. Only persons who can demonstrate a connection to the sector are eligible to run in a functional constituency.

The Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2012, if passed, amends the Legislative Council Ordinance to restrict the right to stand in Legislative Council by-elections in geographical constituencies and the District Council (Second) functional constituency. In addition to those persons who are mentally disabled, bankrupt, or imprisoned, members who resign their seats will not have the right to stand for six months' time from their resignation. The bill is currently passing through the committee stage.


Since the very first Indian general election held in 1951–52, universal suffrage for all adult citizens aged 21 or older was established under Article 326 of the Constitution of India. The minimum voting age was reduced to 18 years by the 61st Amendment, effective 28 March 1989.

Isle of Man

  • 1866 - The House of Keys Election Act makes the House of Keys an elected body. The vote is given to men over the age of 21 who own property worth at least £8 a year or rent property worth at least £12 a year. Candidates must be male, with real estate of an annual value of £100, or of £50 along with a personal estate producing an annual income of £100.
  • 1881 - The House of Keys Election Act is amended so that the property qualification is reduced to a net annual value of not less than £4. Most significantly, the Act is also amended to extend the franchise to unmarried women and widows over the age of 21 who own property, making the Isle of Man the first place to give some women the vote in a national election. The property qualification for candidates is modified to allow the alternative of personal property producing a year income of £150.
  • 1892 - The franchise is extended to unmarried women and widows over the age of 21 who rent property worth a net annual value of at least £4, as well as to male lodgers. The property qualification for candidates is removed.
  • 1903 - A residency qualification is introduced in addition to the property qualification for voters. The time between elections is reduced from 7 to 5 years.
  • 1919 - Universal adult suffrage based on residency is introduced: all male and female residents over the age of 21 may vote. The entire electorate (with the exception of clergy and holders of office of profit) becomes eligible to stand for election.
  • 1970 - Voting age lowered to 18.
  • 2006 - Voting age lowered to 16. The age of eligibility for candidates remains at 18.


The Supreme Court states that "the rules derogating from the passive electoral law must be strictly interpreted".[80]


  • 1947 – Universal Suffrage instituted with the establishment of Post-war Constitution.

New Zealand

  • 1853 – British government passes the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, granting limited self-rule, including a bicameral parliament, to the colony. The vote was limited to male British subjects aged 21 or over who owned or rented sufficient property and were not imprisoned for a serious offence. Communally owned land was excluded from the property qualification, thus disenfranchising most Māori (indigenous) men.
  • 1860 – Franchise extended to holders of miner's licenses who met all voting qualifications except that of property.
  • 1867 – Māori seats established, giving Māori four reserved seats in the lower house. There was no property qualification; thus Māori men gained universal suffrage before other New Zealanders. The number of seats did not reflect the size of the Māori population, but Māori men who met the property requirement for general electorates were able to vote in them or in the Māori electorates but not both.
  • 1879 – Property requirement abolished.
  • 1893 – Women won equal voting rights with men, making New Zealand the first nation in the world to allow women to vote.
  • 1969 – Voting age lowered to 20.
  • 1974 – Voting age lowered to 18.
  • 1975 – Franchise extended to permanent residents of New Zealand, regardless of whether they have citizenship.
  • 1996 – Number of Māori seats increased to reflect Māori population.
  • 2010 – Prisoners imprisoned for one year or more denied voting rights while serving the sentence.


  • 1814 - The constitution gave male landowners or officials above the age of 25 full voting rights. [81]
  • 1885 - Male taxpayers that paid at least 500 NOK of tax (800 NOK in towns) got voting rights.
  • 1900 - Universal suffrage for men over 25.
  • 1901 - Women, over 25, paying tax or having common household with a man paying tax, got the right to vote in local elections.
  • 1909 - Women, over 25, paying tax or having common household with a man paying tax, got full voting rights.
  • 1913 - Universal suffrage for all over 25, applying from the election in 1915.
  • 1920 - Voting age lowered to 23. [82]
  • 1946 - Voting age lowered to 21.
  • 1967 - Voting age lowered to 20.
  • 1978 - Voting age lowered to 18.


  • 1918 – In its first days of independence in 1918, after 123 years of partition, voting rights were granted to both men and women. Eight women were elected to the Sejm in 1919.
  • 1952 – Voting age lowered to 18.

South Africa

  • 1910 — The Union of South Africa is established by the South Africa Act 1909. The House of Assembly is elected by first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies. The franchise qualifications are the same as those previously existing for elections of the legislatures of the colonies that comprised the Union. In the Transvaal and the Orange Free State the franchise is limited to white men. In Natal the franchise is limited to men meeting property and literacy qualifications; it was theoretically colour-blind but in practise nearly all non-white men were excluded. The traditional "Cape Qualified Franchise" of the Cape Province is limited to men meeting property and literacy qualifications and is colour-blind; nonetheless 85% of voters are white. The rights of non-white voters in the Cape Province are protected by an entrenched clause in the South Africa Act requiring a two-thirds vote in a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
  • 1930 — The Women's Enfranchisement Act, 1930 extends the right to vote to all white women over the age of 21.
  • 1931 — The Franchise Laws Amendment Act, 1931 removes the property and literacy qualifications for all white men over the age of 21, but they are retained for non-white voters.
  • 1936 — The Representation of Natives Act, 1936 removes black voters in the Cape Province from the common voters' roll and instead allows them to elect three "Native Representative Members" to the House of Assembly. Four Senators are to be indirectly elected by chiefs and local authorities to represent black South Africans throughout the country. The act is passed with the necessary two-thirds majority in a joint sitting.
  • 1951 — The Separate Representation of Voters Act, 1951 is passed by Parliament by an ordinary majority in separate sittings. It purports to remove coloured voters in the Cape Province from the common voters' roll and instead allow them to elect four "Coloured Representative Members" to the House of Assembly.
  • 1952 — In Harris v Minister of the Interior the Separate Representation of Voters Act is annulled by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court because it was not passed with the necessary two-thirds majority in a joint sitting. Parliament passes the High Court of Parliament Act, 1952, purporting to allow it to reverse this decision, but the Appellate Division annuls it as well.
  • 1956 — By packing the Senate and the Appellate Division, the government passes the South Africa Act Amendment Act, 1956, reversing the annulment of the Separate Representation of Voters Act and giving it the force of law.
  • 1958 — The Electoral Law Amendment Act, 1958 reduces the voting age for white voters from 21 to 18.
  • 1959 — The Promotion of Bantu Self-government Act, 1959 repeals the Representation of Natives Act, removing all representation of black people in Parliament.
  • 1968 — The Separate Representation of Voters Amendment Act, 1968 repeals the Separate Representation of Voters Act, removing all representation of coloured people in Parliament.
  • 1969 — The first election of the Coloured Persons Representative Council (CPRC), which has limited legislative powers, is held. Every Coloured citizen over the age of 21 can vote for its members, in first-past-the-post elections in single-member constituencies.
  • 1978 — The voting age for the CPRC is reduced from 21 to 18.
  • 1981 — The first election of the South African Indian Council (SAIC), which has limited legislative powers, is held. Every Indian South African citizen over the age of 18 can vote for its members, in first-past-the-post elections in single-member constituencies.
  • 1984 — The Constitution of 1983 establishes the Tricameral Parliament. Two new Houses of Parliament are created, the House of Representatives to represent coloured citizens and the House of Delegates to represent Indian citizens. Every coloured and Indian citizen over the age of 18 can vote in elections for the relevant house. As with the House of Assembly, the members are elected by first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies. The CPRC and SAIC are abolished.
  • 1994 — With the end of apartheid, the Interim Constitution of 1993 abolishes the Tricameral Parliament and all racial discrimination in voting rights. A new National Assembly is created, and every South African citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote for the assembly. The right to vote is also extended to long term residents. It is estimated the 500 000 foreign nationals voted in the 1994 national and provincial elections. Elections of the assembly are based on party-list proportional representation. The right to vote is enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
  • 1999 — In August and Another v Electoral Commission and Others the Constitutional Court rules that prisoners cannot be denied the right to vote without a law that explicitly does so.
  • 2003 — The Electoral Laws Amendment Act, 2003 purports to prohibit convicted prisoners from voting.
  • 2004 — In Minister of Home Affairs v NICRO and Others the Constitutional Court rules that prisoners cannot be denied the right to vote, and invalidates the laws that do so.
  • 2009 — In Richter v Minister for Home Affairs and Others the Constitutional Court rules that South African citizens outside the country cannot be denied the right to vote.



United Kingdom

From 1265, a few percent of the adult male population in the Kingdom of England (of which Wales was a full and equal member from 1542) were able to vote in parliamentary elections that occurred at irregular intervals to the Parliament of England.[85][86] The franchise for the Parliament of Scotland developed separately. King Henry VI of England established in 1432 that only owners of property worth at least forty shillings, a significant sum, were entitled to vote in an English county constituency. The franchise was restricted to males by custom rather than statute.[87] Changes were made to the details of the system, but there was no major reform until the Reform Act 1832.[nb 3] A series of Reform Acts and Representation of the People Acts followed. In 1918, all men over 21 and some women over 30 won the right to vote, and in 1928 all women over 21 won the right to vote resulting in universal suffrage.[89]

  • Reform Act 1832 – extended voting rights to adult males who rented propertied land of a certain value, so allowing 1 in 7 males in the UK voting rights.
  • Reform Act 1867 – extended the franchise to men in urban areas who met a property qualification, so increasing male suffrage.
  • Representation of the People Act 1884 – addressed imbalances between the boroughs and the countryside; this brought the voting population to 5,500,000, although 40% of males were still disenfranchised because of the property qualification.
  • Between 1885 and 1918 moves were made by the women's suffrage movement to ensure votes for women. However, the duration of the First World War stopped this reform movement.
  • Representation of the People Act 1918 – the consequences of World War I persuaded the government to expand the right to vote, not only for the many men who fought in the war who were disenfranchised, but also for the women who worked in factories, agriculture and elsewhere as part of the war effort, often substituting for enlisted men and including dangerous work such as in munitions factories. All men aged 21 and over were given the right to vote. Property restrictions for voting were lifted for men. Votes were given to 40% of women, with property restrictions and limited to those over 30 years old. This increased the electorate from 7.7 million to 21.4 million with women making up 8.5 million of the electorate. Seven percent of the electorate had more than one vote. The first election with this system was the 1918 general election.
  • Representation of the People Act 1928 – equal suffrage for women and men, with voting possible at 21 with no property restrictions.
  • Representation of the People Act 1948 – the act was passed to prevent plural voting.
  • Representation of the People Act 1969 – extension of suffrage to those 18 and older.

United States

The Constitution did not originally define who was eligible to vote, allowing each state to decide this status. In the early history of the U.S., most states allowed only white male adult property owners to vote (about 6% of the population).[90][91] By 1856 property ownership requirements were eliminated in all states, giving suffrage to most white men. However, tax-paying requirements remained in five states until 1860 and in two states until the 20th century.[92][93]

After the Civil War, five amendments to the Constitution were expressly addressed to the "right to vote"; these amendments limit the basis upon which the right to vote in any U.S. state or other jurisdiction may be abridged or denied.[nb 4]

  • 15th Amendment (1870): "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
  • 19th Amendment (1920): "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
  • 23rd Amendment (1961): provides that residents of the District of Columbia can vote for the President and Vice President.
  • 24th Amendment (1964): "The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax."
  • 26th Amendment (1971): "The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age."

Full removal of racial disenfranchisement of citizens was not secured until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gained passage through Congress following the Civil Rights Movement. For state elections, it was not until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966) that all state poll taxes were declared unconstitutional as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This removed a burden on the poor, including some poor whites who had been disenfranchised.[94][95]

Majority-Muslim countries

See also



  1. ^ Strictly speaking, all ratepayers; however, domestic rates were abolished after the 1977 election.[26]
  2. ^ For example South Dublin County Council produced lists of addresses of residences[28] and ratepayers[29] within Palmerstown for the 2014 plebiscite on changing the district's spelling.
  3. ^ Until this Act specified 'male persons', a few women had been able to vote in parliamentary elections through property ownership, although this was rare.[88]
  4. ^ The 14th Amendment (1868) altered the way each state is represented in the House of Representatives. It counted all residents for apportionment including former slaves, overriding the three-fifths compromise of the original Constitution; it also reduced a state's apportionment if it wrongfully denied the right to vote to males over age 21. However, this sanction was not enforced in practice.


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  • Neill Atkinson, Adventures in Democracy: A History of the Vote in New Zealand (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2003).
  • Michael Haas, Racial Harmony Is Achievable: Lessons from the Kingdom of Hawai'i (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 70–72.
  • Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 2000). ISBN 0-465-02968-X.
  • U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Reports on Voting (2005) ISBN 978-0-8377-3103-2.
  • "Smallest State in the World", The New York Times, 19 June 1896, p. 6
  • A History of the Vote in Canada, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, 2007.

External links

Direct election

Direct election is a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the persons, or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the electoral system used. The most commonly used systems are the plurality system and the two-round system for single-winner elections, such as a presidential election, and party-list proportional representation for the election of a legislature.

Examples of directly elected bodies are the European Parliament (since 1979) and the United States House of Representatives. The MPs (members of parliament), MLAs (members of legislature) and members of the local bodies are elected by direct election.

By contrast, in an indirect election, the voters elect a body which in turn elects the officeholder in question.

In a double direct election, the elected representative serves on two councils, typically a lower tier municipality and an upper tier regional district or municipality.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815 – October 26, 1902) was an American suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women's rights movement. Her Declaration of Sentiments, presented at the Seneca Falls Convention held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, is often credited with initiating the first organized women's rights and women's suffrage movements in the United States. Stanton was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 until 1892.

Before Stanton narrowed her political focus almost exclusively to women's rights, she was an active abolitionist with her husband Henry Brewster Stanton (co-founder of the Republican Party) and cousin Gerrit Smith. Unlike many of those involved in the women's rights movement, Stanton addressed various issues pertaining to women beyond voting rights. Her concerns included women's parental and custody rights, property rights, employment and income rights, divorce, the economic health of the family, and birth control. She was also an outspoken supporter of the 19th-century temperance movement.

After the American Civil War, Stanton's commitment to female suffrage caused a schism in the women's rights movement when she, together with Susan B. Anthony, declined to support passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. She opposed giving added legal protection and voting rights to African American men while women, black and white, were denied those same rights. Her position on this issue, together with her thoughts on organized Christianity and women's issues beyond voting rights, led to the formation of two separate women's rights organizations that were finally rejoined, with Stanton as president of the joint organization, about twenty years after her break from the original women's suffrage movement.

Stanton died in 1902, having written both The Woman's Bible and her autobiography Eighty Years and More, and many other articles and pamphlets about female suffrage and women's rights.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (born Emiline Goulden; 15 July 1858 – 14 June 1928) was a British political activist and helper of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. In 1999 Time named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating "she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back". She was widely criticised for her militant tactics, and historians disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognised as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in the United Kingdom.Born in Moss Side, Manchester, to politically active parents, Pankhurst was introduced at the age of 14 to the women's suffrage movement. She founded and became involved with the Women's Franchise League, which advocated suffrage for both married and unmarried women. When that organisation broke apart, she tried to join the left-leaning Independent Labour Party through her friendship with socialist Keir Hardie but was initially refused membership by the local branch on account of her sex. While working as a Poor Law Guardian, she was shocked at the harsh conditions she encountered in Manchester's workhouses.

In 1903, Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all-women suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to "deeds, not words". The group identified as independent from – and often in opposition to – political parties. It became known for physical confrontations: its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists received repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions, and were often force-fed. As Pankhurst's eldest daughter Christabel took leadership of the WSPU, antagonism between the group and the government grew. Eventually the group adopted arson as a tactic, and more moderate organisations spoke out against the Pankhurst family. In 1913 several prominent individuals left the WSPU, among them Pankhurst's younger daughters, Adela and Sylvia. Emmeline was so furious that she "gave [Adela] a ticket, £20, and a letter of introduction to a suffragette in Australia, and firmly insisted that she emigrate". Adela complied and the family rift was never healed. Sylvia became a socialist.

With the advent of the First World War, Emmeline and Christabel called an immediate halt to militant suffrage terrorism in support of the British government's stand against the "German Peril". They urged women to aid industrial production and encouraged young men to fight, becoming prominent figures in the white feather movement. In 1918, the Representation of the People Act granted votes to all men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30. This discrepancy was intended to ensure that men did not become minority voters as a consequence of the huge number of deaths suffered during the First World War.She transformed the WSPU machinery into the Women's Party, which was dedicated to promoting women's equality in public life. In her later years, she became concerned with what she perceived as the menace posed by Bolshevism and joined the Conservative Party. She was selected as the Conservative candidate for Whitechapel and St Georges in 1927. She died on 14 June 1928, only weeks before the Conservative government's Representation of the People Act (1928) extended the vote to all women over 21 years of age on 2 July 1928. She was commemorated two years later with a statue in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament.

List of suffragists and suffragettes

This list of suffragists and suffragettes includes noted individuals active in the worldwide women's suffrage movement who have campaigned or strongly advocated for women's suffrage, the organizations which they formed or joined, and the publications which publicized – and, in some nations, continue to publicize – their goals. Suffragists and suffragettes, often members of different groups and societies, used or use differing tactics. For example, "suffragette" in the British usage denotes a more "militant" type of campaigner, while suffragettes in the United States organized such nonviolent events as the Suffrage Hikes, the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, and the Silent Sentinels.

National American Woman Suffrage Association

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was an organization formed on February 18, 1890 to advocate in favor of women's suffrage in the United States. It was created by the merger of two existing organizations, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Its membership, which was about seven thousand at the time it was formed, eventually increased to two million, making it the largest voluntary organization in the nation. It played a pivotal role in the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which in 1920 guaranteed women's right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony, a long-time leader in the suffrage movement, was the dominant figure in the newly formed NAWSA. Carrie Chapman Catt, who became president after Anthony retired in 1900, implemented a strategy of recruiting wealthy members of the rapidly growing women's club movement, whose time, money and experience could help build the suffrage movement. Anna Howard Shaw's term in office, which began in 1904, saw strong growth in the organization's membership and public approval.

After the Senate decisively rejected the proposed women's suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1887, the suffrage movement had concentrated most of its efforts on state suffrage campaigns. In 1910 Alice Paul joined the NAWSA and played a major role in reviving interest in the national amendment. After continuing conflicts with the NAWSA leadership over tactics, Paul created a rival organization, the National Woman's Party.

When Catt again became president in 1915, the NAWSA adopted her plan to centralize the organization and work toward the suffrage amendment as its primary goal. This was done despite opposition from southern members who believed that a federal amendment would erode states' rights. With its large membership and the increasing number of women voters in states where suffrage had already been achieved, the NAWSA began to operate more as a political pressure group than an educational group. It won additional sympathy for the suffrage cause by actively cooperating with the war effort during World War I. On February 14, 1920, several months prior to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the NAWSA transformed itself into the League of Women Voters, which is still active.

Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Nineteenth Amendment (Amendment XIX) to the United States Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. The amendment was adopted on August 18, 1920 as the culmination of the women's suffrage movement in the United States, which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote. It effectively overruled Minor v. Happersett (1875), in which a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not give women the right to vote. Since the 1860s, an increasing number of states had given women the right to vote, but several states still denied women the right to vote at the time the amendment was ratified.

The Nineteenth Amendment was originally introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Forty-one years later, in 1919, Congress submitted it to the states for ratification. It was ratified by three-fourths of the states a year later, with Tennessee's ratification being the last needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. In Leser v. Garnett (1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted.


A suffragette was a member of militant women's organisations in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for the right to vote in public elections, known as women's suffrage. The term refers in particular to members of the British Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a women-only movement founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst, which engaged in direct action and civil disobedience. In 1906 a reporter writing in the Daily Mail coined the term suffragette for the WSPU, from suffragist, in an attempt to belittle the women advocating women's suffrage. The militants embraced the new name, even adopting it for use as the title of the newspaper published by the WSPU.

Women had won the right to vote in several countries by the end of the 19th century; in 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing country to grant the vote to all women over the age of 21. When by 1903 women in Britain had not been enfranchised, Pankhurst decided that women had to "do the work ourselves"; the WSPU motto became "deeds, not words". The suffragettes heckled politicians, tried to storm parliament, were attacked and sexually assaulted during battles with the police, chained themselves to railings, smashed windows, set fire to postboxes and empty buildings, set bombs in order to damage churches and property, and faced anger and ridicule in the media. When imprisoned they went on hunger strike, to which the government responded by force-feeding them. The death of one suffragette, Emily Davison, when she ran in front of the king's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby, made headlines around the world. The WSPU campaign had varying levels of support from within the suffragette movement; breakaway groups formed, and within the WSPU itself not all members supported the direct action.The suffragette campaign was suspended when World War I broke out in 1914. After the war, the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave the vote to women over the age of 30 who met certain property qualifications. Ten years later women gained electoral equality with men when the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 gave all women the vote at age 21.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was an American social reformer and women's rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she collected anti-slavery petitions at the age of 17. In 1856, she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

In 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who became her lifelong friend and co-worker in social reform activities, primarily in the field of women's rights. In 1852, they founded the New York Women's State Temperance Society after Anthony was prevented from speaking at a temperance conference because she was female. In 1863, they founded the Women's Loyal National League, which conducted the largest petition drive in United States history up to that time, collecting nearly 400,000 signatures in support of the abolition of slavery. In 1866, they initiated the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for both women and African Americans. In 1868, they began publishing a women's rights newspaper called The Revolution. In 1869, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association as part of a split in the women's movement. In 1890, the split was formally healed when their organization merged with the rival American Woman Suffrage Association to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association, with Anthony as its key force. In 1876, Anthony and Stanton began working with Matilda Joslyn Gage on what eventually grew into the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage. The interests of Anthony and Stanton diverged somewhat in later years, but the two remained close friends.

In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in her hometown of Rochester, New York, and convicted in a widely publicized trial. Although she refused to pay the fine, the authorities declined to take further action. In 1878, Anthony and Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote. Introduced by Sen. Aaron A. Sargent (R-CA), it later became known colloquially as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

Anthony traveled extensively in support of women's suffrage, giving as many as 75 to 100 speeches per year and working on many state campaigns. She worked internationally for women's rights, playing a key role in creating the International Council of Women, which is still active. She also helped to bring about the World's Congress of Representative Women at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

When she first began campaigning for women's rights, Anthony was harshly ridiculed and accused of trying to destroy the institution of marriage. Public perception of her changed radically during her lifetime, however. Her 80th birthday was celebrated in the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley. She became the first actual woman to be depicted on U.S. coinage when her portrait appeared on the 1979 dollar coin.

Timeline of women's suffrage

Women's suffrage – the right of women to vote – has been achieved at various times in countries throughout the world. In many nations, women's suffrage was granted before universal suffrage, so women and men from certain classes or races were still unable to vote. Some countries granted suffrage to both sexes at the same time. This timeline lists years when women's suffrage was enacted. Some countries are listed more than once, as the right was extended to more women according to age, land ownership, etc. In many cases, the first voting took place in a subsequent year.

Some women in the Isle of Man (geographically part of the British Isles but not part of the United Kingdom) gained the right to vote in 1881. Though it did not achieve nationhood until 1907, the colony of New Zealand was the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in, but not to stand for, parliamentary elections in 1893, followed closely by the colony of South Australia in 1894 (which, unlike New Zealand, allowed women to stand for Parliament). In Sweden, conditional women's suffrage was granted during the age of liberty between 1718 and 1772.The Australian Commonwealth Franchise Act of 1902 enabled women to vote at federal elections and also permitted women to stand for election to the Australian Parliament, making the newly-federated country of Australia the first in the modern world to do so. In 1906, the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, which became the republic of Finland, was the second country in the world to implement both the right to vote and the right to run for office. Finland was also the first country in Europe to give women the right to vote. The world's first female members of parliament were elected in Finland the following year. In Europe, the last jurisdiction to grant women the right to vote was the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI), in 1991; AI is the smallest Swiss canton with c. 14,100 inhabitants in 1990. Women in Switzerland obtained the right to vote at federal level in 1971, and at local cantonal level between 1959 and 1972, except for Appenzell in 1989/1990, see Women's suffrage in Switzerland. In Saudi Arabia women were first allowed to vote in December 2015 in the municipal elections.For other women's rights, see timeline of women's legal rights (other than voting).

Timeline of women's suffrage in the United States

This is a timeline of women's suffrage in the United States.

Universal suffrage

The concept of universal suffrage, also known as general suffrage or common suffrage, consists of the right to vote of all adult citizens, regardless of property ownership, income, race, or ethnicity, subject only to minor exceptions. In its original 19th-century usage by political reformers, universal suffrage was understood to mean only universal manhood suffrage; the vote was extended to women later, during the women's suffrage movement.There are variations among countries in terms of specifics of the right to vote; the minimum age is usually between 18 and 25 years (see age of majority) and "the insane, certain classes of convicted criminals, and those punished for certain electoral offenses" sometimes lack the right to vote.In the United States, the term "suffrage" is often associated specifically with women's suffrage; a movement to extend the franchise to women began in the mid-nineteenth century and culminated in 1920, when the United States ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing the right of women to vote.

In most countries, universal suffrage (the right to vote but not necessarily the right to be a candidate) followed about a generation after universal male suffrage. Notable exceptions in Europe were France, where women could not vote until 1944, Greece (1952), and Switzerland (1971).

In the first modern democracies, governments restricted the vote to those with property and wealth, which almost always meant a minority of the male population. In some jurisdictions, other restrictions existed, such as requiring voters to practice a given religion. In all modern democracies, the number of people who could vote has increased progressively with time. In the 19th century in Europe, Great Britain and North America, there were movements advocating "universal [male] suffrage".

Woman suffrage parade of 1913

The woman suffrage parade of 1913, officially the Woman Suffrage Procession, was the first suffragist parade in Washington, D.C. It was also the first large, organized march on Washington for political purposes. The procession was organized by the suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Thousands of suffragists marched down Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday, March 3, 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. The parade's purpose, stated in its official program, was to "march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded". The event kicked off Paul's campaign to refocus the suffrage movement on obtaining a national constitutional amendment for woman's suffrage. The demonstration consisted of a parade with floats, bands, and a various groups representing women at home, in school, and in the workplace.

At the Treasury Building, a pageant of allegorical tableaux was acted out during the procession. District police failed to keep the enormous crowd out of the street, impeding the marchers' progress. Many participants were subjected to heckling from spectators, though there were also many supporters present. The final act was a rally at the Memorial Continental Hall with prominent speakers, including Anna Howard Shaw and Helen Keller. Some negative publicity prior to the march resulted from the announcement that blacks from Howard University would be marching in the parade and some people incorrectly suggested that Paul had tried to keep them from participating. Black women and men did participate in the procession and were not treated differently by the spectators. The march and the attention that it attracted were monumental in advancing women's suffrage in the United States.

Women's suffrage

Women's suffrage is the right of women to vote in elections. Beginning in the late 1800s, women worked for broad-based economic and political equality and for social reforms, and sought to change voting laws in order to allow them to vote. National and international organizations formed to coordinate efforts to gain voting rights, especially the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (founded in 1904, Berlin, Germany), and also worked for equal civil rights for women.Women who owned property gained the right to vote in the Isle of Man in 1881, and in 1893, the British colony of New Zealand granted all women the right to vote. Most independent countries enacted women's suffrage in the interwar era, including Canada in 1917; Britain, Germany, Poland in 1918; Austria and the Netherlands in 1919; and the United States in 1920. Leslie Hume argues that the First World War changed the popular mood:

The women's contribution to the war effort challenged the notion of women's physical and mental inferiority and made it more difficult to maintain that women were, both by constitution and temperament, unfit to vote. If women could work in munitions factories, it seemed both ungrateful and illogical to deny them a place in the polling booth. But the vote was much more than simply a reward for war work; the point was that women's participation in the war helped to dispel the fears that surrounded women's entry into the public arena.Extended political campaigns by women and their supporters have generally been necessary to gain legislation or constitutional amendments for women's suffrage. In many countries, limited suffrage for women was granted before universal suffrage for men; for instance, literate women or property owners were granted suffrage before all men received it. The United Nations encouraged women's suffrage in the years following World War II, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) identifies it as a basic right with 189 countries currently being parties to this Convention.

Women's suffrage in New Zealand

Women's suffrage in New Zealand was an important political issue in the late nineteenth century. In early colonial New Zealand, as in European societies, women were excluded from any involvement in politics. Public opinion began to change in the latter half of the nineteenth century, however, and after years of effort by women's suffrage campaigners, led by Kate Sheppard, New Zealand became the first self-governing colony in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections.The Electoral Bill granting women the franchise was given Royal Assent by Governor Lord Glasgow on 19 September 1893. Women voted for the first time in the election held on 28 November 1893 (elections for the Māori electorates were held on 20 December). Also in 1893, Elizabeth Yates became Mayor of Onehunga, the first time such a post had been held by a woman anywhere in the British Empire.In the 21st century there are more eligible women voters than men and women also vote at a higher rate than men. However, a higher percentage of women than men non voters perceive a barrier that prevents them from voting.

Women's suffrage in Switzerland

Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971. In 1991 following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI) became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues; AI is the smallest Swiss canton with c. 14,100 inhabitants in 1990.A previous referendum on women's suffrage was held on 1 February 1959 and was rejected by the majority (67%) of Switzerland's men. Despite this, in some French-speaking cantons women obtained the right to vote in local referendums. The first Swiss woman to hold political office, Trudy Späth-Schweizer, was elected to the municipal government of Riehen in 1958.

Women's suffrage in states of the United States

Women's suffrage in states of the United States refers to women's right to vote in individual states of that country. Suffrage was established on a full or partial basis by various towns, counties, states and territories during the latter decades of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. As women received the right to vote in some places, they began running for public office and gaining positions as school board members, county clerks, state legislators, judges, and, in the case of Jeannette Rankin, as a Member of Congress.

The campaign to establish women's right to vote in the states was conducted simultaneously with the campaign for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would establish that right fully in all states. That campaign succeeded with the ratification of Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom

Women's suffrage in the United Kingdom was a movement to fight for women's right to vote. It finally succeeded through two laws in 1918 and 1928. It became a national movement in the Victorian era. Women were not explicitly banned from voting in Great Britain until the 1832 Reform Act and the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act. In 1872 the fight for women's suffrage became a national movement with the formation of the National Society for Women's Suffrage and later the more influential National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). As well as in England, women's suffrage movements in Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom gained momentum. The movements shifted sentiments in favour of woman suffrage by 1906. It was at this point that the militant campaign began with the formation of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU).The outbreak of the First World War on the 4th August 1914 led to a suspension of all politics, including the militant suffragette campaigns. Lobbying did take place quietly. In 1918, a coalition government passed the Representation of the People Act 1918, enfranchising all men, as well as all women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. This act was the first to include practically all men in the political system and began the inclusion of women, extending the franchise by 5.6 million men and 8.4 million women. In 1928, the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act giving the vote to all women over the age of 21 on equal terms with men.

Women's suffrage in the United States

Women's suffrage in the United States of America, the legal right of women to vote, was established over the course of more than half a century, first in various states and localities, sometimes on a limited basis, and then nationally in 1920.

The demand for women's suffrage began to gather strength in the 1840s, emerging from the broader movement for women's rights. In 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, passed a resolution in favor of women's suffrage despite opposition from some of its organizers, who believed the idea was too extreme. By the time of the first National Women's Rights Convention in 1850, however, suffrage was becoming an increasingly important aspect of the movement's activities.

The first national suffrage organizations were established in 1869 when two competing organizations were formed, one led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the other by Lucy Stone. After years of rivalry, they merged in 1890 as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) with Anthony as its leading force. The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which was the largest women's organization at that time, was established in 1873 and also pursued women's suffrage, giving a huge boost to the movement.Hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that women had a constitutional right to vote, suffragists made several attempts to vote in the early 1870s and then filed lawsuits when they were turned away. Anthony actually succeeded in voting in 1872 but was arrested for that act and found guilty in a widely publicized trial that gave the movement fresh momentum. After the Supreme Court ruled against them in 1875 (Minor v. Happersett), suffragists began the decades-long campaign for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would enfranchise women. Much of the movement's energy, however, went toward working for suffrage on a state-by-state basis.

In 1916 Alice Paul formed the National Woman's Party (NWP), a militant group focused on the passage of a national suffrage amendment. Over 200 NWP supporters, the Silent Sentinels, were arrested in 1917 while picketing the White House, some of whom went on hunger strike and endured forced feeding after being sent to prison. Under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, the two-million-member NAWSA also made a national suffrage amendment its top priority. After a hard-fought series of votes in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. It states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Youth suffrage

Youth suffrage, or children's suffrage, is the right of youth to vote and forms part of the broader youth rights movement. Until recently Iran had a voting age of 15; Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua have a voting age of 16; and Indonesia, East Timor, Sudan, and Seychelles have a voting age of 17.

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