Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Franchise in Germany and the USA

Unlike Great Britain, with a century-long song-and-dance of the reform acts of 1832, 1867, 1884, 1918 and 1928 to get to universal adult franchise,  Germany, not exactly known as a bastion of democracy, equality, etc., had full adult male franchise since 1867, and universal adult franchise since 1918.   This is so easily found on Wiki that I don't bother to link it here; I make this post because it surprised me.   It shouldn't have surprised me; I ought to be ever aware that my view of Europe is heavily an Anglo-American-centric one.

While I'm on it, the US in principle had full adult male franchise after 1868/1870 (the 14th/15th amendments), and in 1920, the vote was extended to women with the 19th amendment.  In practice, it took the voting right acts of 1964 and 1965 and the 24th Amendment in 1964, to give all adults a fighting chance of being able to exercise their right to vote.  In 2014, the battle over the right to vote continues, with Republican-ruled states trying to put all kinds of barriers in the way of voting.  They do this in the name of preventing voter fraud, which mostly doesn't exist, and the few cases are at the level of a few votes per million.  The fifty states have a mess of rules about allowing/disallowing  prisoners, probationers, parolees and people who have completed all obligations to the prison system  to vote in state and federal elections.  As of 2010, 5.85 million people were disenfranchised in this way. (The voting eligible population in 2010 was around 217.5 million.)

Contrast with Germany, (Wiki):
In Germany, all convicts are allowed to vote while in prison unless the loss of the right to vote is part of the sentence; courts can only apply this sentence for specific "political" crimes (treason, high treason, electoral fraud, intimidation of voters, etc.) and for a duration of two to five years.
As an aside, the Republican/Democratic duopoly have made the rules very difficult for an independent or third party to get onto the ballot.  (It is a patchwork of laws over the fifty states.)

So the battle for full adult franchise is an ongoing one in the "Leader of the Free World", the United States of America.