The government’s report on limiting voting rights has now been published. Dr Richard O’Shea, the Chair of the commission which produced the report is confident that it provides ‘the widest democratic exercise, consistent with ensuring that a vigorous electorate’. He adds: “Voting is an important right, and with all rights come responsibilities. The right to vote will therefore belong to all those who are able to shoulder the responsibility.”
The report “Widening Democracy: Ensuring a Responsive Electorate Fit for the Twenty-First Century”, contains a summary of the recommendations:
The franchise shall be enjoyed by all British citizens and resident Empire and Irish citizens as at present unless specifically excluded. Those excluded will include:
Those under the age of responsibility, namely 21 years
Psychological research has shown that the adolescent brain reaches maturity only around the age of 21 years old, and while the age varies from individual to individual, testing each potential voter would be impractical and so an age limit should be established on the scientific average age of maturity. In girls this may be 19 years old and in men about 39 years, but 21 is a compromise.
No one drunk should be permitted to enter a polling station to vote, which is widely accepted. Those who habitually get drunk may permanently affect their brains and with it their powers of reasoning and therefore their choice at the vote. For those not physically damaged, the inability to control themselves is itself evidence of incapacity to accept responsibility. We have not considered in depth the effect this will have on existing Members of Parliament, but we will certainly be urging the full adoption of this section if the behaviour exhibited to our researcher in the Strangers Bar is repeated.
(see ‘Habitual drunks’ above)
Patients diagnosed with certain mental health conditions
A defect in the mind preventing a voter from exercising reason would make him or her a danger to the rest of the nation, and so those conditions will exclude a citizen from the franchise.
There is no suggestion that all mental health conditions should exclude a citizen from the right to vote or to engage in the political process: otherwise there would be no MPs.
(see ‘Habitual drunks’ above)
Civil servants (Grades A to D) and quangocrats
As they already have a strong say in the government of the country through their positions, stronger than voters, so allowing a civil servant the franchise in his or her personal capacity would be to give two votes, which is inconsistent with the principle of equal voting rights. In addition, civil servants are net consumers of tax money rather than contributors and so would have their participation in the franchise suspended as a cautionary provision in advance of the forthcoming study paper on the principle of “no representation without taxation”.
Dog owners (other than farmers)
This is not a criticism of people who own dogs, and members of all political parties have expressed support for dog-ownership. However those who own dogs do not receive election literature: studies have shown that political leaflets dropped through their doors are instantly devoured by their dogs. Therefore dog-owners, if they go to the polls, do so with no understanding of the issues. This cannot be right if democracy is to work. Therefore the presence of a dog in the household must suspend the right to vote, unless the householder can prove to the satisfaction of the local authority’s election officers that they have a cage or other protection for their post or their filthy mut is kept muzzled at all times even indoors.
People who have no obvious letterbox
For the same reason as dog-owners: they are incapable of receiving election literature. Those European-style bolt-on boxes on the wall with a faux Swiss post-horn motif are acceptable, if poor taste.
People whose letterbox is double-sprung or with a hard brush
This reform had cross-party support and was urged on the Commission by volunteer activists. Such a letterbox ensures that all political leaflets arrive mangled and often illegible, which is a waste of all the effort put into presentation and frequently leaves the leaflet illegible. Further, the installation of such a letterbox shows a callous disregard for the safety of volunteers posting leaflets and for postmen.
Residents of the Borough of Tower Hamlets will see a severe restriction on their current position: henceforth they will be limited to one vote each.
Aren’t you meant to be out hugging a tree or something? Leave voting to the grown-ups.
Because you’ve just misunderstood something; in fact everything.