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The vote for some

The passing of the Representation of the People Act in 1918 tripled the electorate from 7.7 million (28% of the adult population in 1910) to 21.4 million (78% of the adult population in 1919).

So what did it mean?

Virtually all men over the age of 21 got the right to vote

Military and naval service personnel got the vote at the age of 19

Women over 30 who met property qualifications got the vote, becoming 43% of the electorate

Women over 30 who were university graduates obtained a second vote in their university constituencies

Conscientious Objectors were disenfranchised for five years

The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Bill was passed in November 1918. Although women could not vote until they were 30, they could now stand as parliamentary candidates if they were over 21 years of age. Although they only had a few weeks to prepare, seventeen women stood in the 1918 General Election, including Christabel Pankhurst, but the only one to be elected, Constance Markievicz, was a member of Sinn Fein and therefore did not take her seat.The first female MP to take her seat was Nancy Astor, who was elected at a Plymouth by-election in November 1919.

After the passing of the 1918 Act, suffrage societies continued to campaign for women to have the vote on the same terms as men. The Women's Freedom League remained active, as did a number of other societies, and the NUWSS became the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship.

The Equal Franchise Act 1928 gave women the vote on the same terms of men.

Representation of the People Act 1918



Catalogue number

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PU/1/1918/7&8G5c63