Representation of the People Act 1918

Representation of the People Act 1918
  • Title: Representation of the People Act 1918
  • Catalogue number: Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1918/7&8G5c64
  • Description:

    A further Act to reform the electoral system was deemed necessary during the First World War as millions of returning soldiers were not entitled to the vote because of property and residential qualifications.  This Act widened suffrage by abolishing almost all property qualifications for men and by enfranchising women over 30 who met minimum property qualifications. The Act also instituted the present system of holding general elections on one day, and brought in the annual electoral register.  These changes saw the size of the electorate triple from 7.7 million to 21.4 million. Women now accounted for about 43% of the electorate.  However, women were still not politically equal to men, as men could vote from the age of 21. The age 30 requirement was to ensure women did not become the majority of the electorate. If women had been enfranchised based upon the same requirements as men, they would have been in the majority, due to the loss of men in the war.

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