Disfranchisement

Disfranchisement

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Encyclopedia
Disfranchisement is the revocation of the right of suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 (the right to vote) of a person or group of people, or rendering a person's vote less effective, or ineffective. Disfranchisement may occur explicitly through law, or implicitly by intimidation or by placing unreasonable registration or identification impediments in the path of voters.

Voting systems


While disfranchisement literally refers to the right to vote rather than the right to direct representation, various policies have been adapted to voting systems to attempt to reduce the number of "unrepresented" voters.

Proportional representation voting systems


In proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 systems which use election threshold
Election threshold
In party-list proportional representation systems, an election threshold is a clause that stipulates that a party must receive a minimum percentage of votes, either nationally or within a particular district, to obtain any seats in the parliament...

s, parties which do not receive enough votes to meet the specified thresholds claim that their supporters have been disfranchised since their votes do not translate into any legislative seats. In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 the use of preferential voting
Preferential voting
Preferential voting is a type of ballot structure used in several electoral systems in which voters rank candidates in order of relative preference. For example, the voter may select their first choice as '1', their second preference a '2', and so on...

 in federal Senate elections minimizes the extent of disfranchisement as votes for minor candidates are redistributed to other candidates, which then form part of the winning quota
Droop Quota
The Droop quota is the quota most commonly used in elections held under the Single Transferable Vote system. It is also sometimes used in elections held under the largest remainder method of party-list proportional representation . In an STV election the quota is the minimum number of votes a...

, according to the voter's order of preference.

First-past-the-post voting systems


Under the first past the post (FPTP) single member voting system the highest polling candidate is elected as opposed to a candidate that has an absolute majority of votes. A candidate can be elected with less than 50% support with the majority of voters remaining unrepresented. As an example, if three candidates receive 40%, 32% and 28% of the vote respectively, the candidate with 40% of the vote is elected whilst 60% of the electorate go unrepresented. FPTP is used in most jurisdictions in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Preferential voting systems


Preferential voting
Preferential voting
Preferential voting is a type of ballot structure used in several electoral systems in which voters rank candidates in order of relative preference. For example, the voter may select their first choice as '1', their second preference a '2', and so on...

 systems (also referred to as instant run-off
Instant-runoff voting
Instant-runoff voting , also known as preferential voting, the alternative vote and ranked choice voting, is a voting system used to elect one winner. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and their ballots are counted as one vote for their first choice candidate. If a candidate secures a...

 voting and alternative vote) redistribute votes for minor candidates according to the voter's expressed order of preference without the need for a second run-off ballot. Preferential voting is used throughout Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, and in some states in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. This reduces but does not eliminate lack of representation, because the winner always ends up with more than 50% of the votes

By place of residence and ethnicity


Washington, D.C.



In the largest known ongoing case of federal congressional and state disfranchisement in the United States, about 600,000 US Citizens of the District of Columbia (DC) are no longer allowed to vote for full Congressional or Senate candidates. DC citizens ask for restoration of all elections, full Congressional representation, and all nationally standard rights for full US Citizens. These "inalienable rights" had been conferred by the State of Maryland, prior to conversion to a national capital, and are revoked, or not enforced by the US Congress. In 1846, the Virginian portion of Washington, DC, contributed from Virginia, was "retrocessioned" (returned) to Virginia to protect slavery and today has had all US Citizen rights restored to that area. Congress uses the same portion of the US Constitution to exclusively manage local and State level law for the citizens of Washington, DC and US Military Bases in the US. Since 1986, reversing prior Congressional law, Congress passed a law restoring all State and Federal voting rights for US Military personnel living on Bases in the US, but Congress did not include Washington, DC, in that 1986 law. Several Million US Citizens on US Bases have rights restored, while 600,000 US Citizens of Washington, DC, do not. All other lawful US Citizens disenfranchised (prior voting rights actively removed by State or Federal Government) have had their Voting Rights restored, except for Washington, DC Citizens.
US Constitutional mechanism to disenfranchise

In the United States, the US Congress is not only the national legislature, but also is the States Rights Legislature on US Military Bases in the US and the District of Columbia (under Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the US Constitution), replacing the State Legislature when State Legislature jurisdiction is transferred to the Federal Government. The US Congress is the "exclusive legislature" on these Bases, Washington, DC, and similar Federal Zones. US Congress interprets this "exclusive legislature" as powerful enough to disenfranchise lawful US Citizens living under I-8-17 of the US Constitution. US Congress also interprets the mechanism of I-8-17 powers as strong enough to re-enfranchise, such as the US Military being restored voting in 1986, where these Citizens vote in the US State that contributed the land for the Base. By cancelling elections, Congress never enforced the Voting Rights Amendments in Washington, DC, such as Amendments, 14, 15, 19, 24, and 26 for Federal or State Legislative Elections. No resident of Washington, DC, can vote for US Senators in Washington, DC, because neither Amendment 17 (direct election of US Senators) nor 19 (Women's Suffrage) have been enforced by Congress in Washington, DC. These amendments grant citizenship (14th), and voting rights to all races (15th), women (19th), without poll tax (24th) and youth 18–21 years old (26th).
Creation of Washington, DC

Congress "cessioned" (transferred) land for the District of Columbia from the states of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 in the Residence Act
Residence Act
The Residence Act of 1790, officially titled An Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States, is the United States federal law that settled the question of locating the capital of the United States, selecting a site along the Potomac River...

 of 1790 and the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801
District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801
The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801 is an Organic Act enacted by the United States Congress, which incorporated the District of Columbia and divided the territory into two counties: Washington County to the north and east of the Potomac River and Alexandria County...

 to establish a national seat of government
Federal district
Federal districts are a type of administrative division of a federation, under the direct control of a federal government. They exist in various countries and states all over the world.-United States:...

, taking charge with a simple law that put Congress in charge of the District of Columbia.

Taking control of the District of Columbia, the US Congress interpreted that Maryland law no longer applied, such as for elections. Yet Maryland Law permitting the land transfer for the establishment of Washington, DC, stipulated that the rights of the Maryland Citizens continue for these citizens transferred, such as voting rights. The US Congress simply ignored this Maryland negotiated stipulation. Through intentional omission of law, the US Congress deliberately cancelled all elections since 1801, removing the voting and election traditions that preceded Congress in the area converted into the National Capital. Congress took over, with a simple Federal Law, and did not reenact the Maryland legislation that simple Federal law struck down. This strategy for disenfranchising DC Citizens was openly discussed in Congressional Debates as recorded in the Annals of Congress from New Year's Eve 1800 until final passage in March 1801. Congressional power over aspects of local government and elections increased from 1801 to 1965, but with restoration of Presidential elections, and reestablishment of locally elected Mayor and Council, has very slowly moved back toward the rights Maryland had provided from 1776 to 1801.
Removal of US Congressional Districts and Presidential Elections

The portion of Maryland converted into Washington, DC, had been involved in all Maryland elections form before 1776, until 1802. From 1789 until 1802, the portion of Maryland converted into Washington, DC, was part of two US Congressional Districts, represented in 1801 by US Rep. John Chew Thomas from Maryland's 2nd, and US Rep. William Craik from Maryland's 3rd.

Given the variety of laws passed by Congress to disenfranchise US Citizens in Washington, DC or on US Bases, it is nearly impossible to thoroughly summarize two hundred years of history of disenfranchisement and alienation of in alienable rights, for Local, State and Federal Rights levels in these places. By Congress banning elections in Washington, DC, since 1801, later Amendment, such as 17, the direct election of US Senators, were never enforced in Washington, DC.

Between 1804 and 1964, the US Congress cancelled US Presidential elections in Washington, DC, while the rest of State of Maryland continued to vote in these elections. Unlike Military Bases where the US Congress simply changed the law in 1986, Washington, DC, had to get Constitutional Amendment passed (Amendment 23) to restore US Presidential elections, after 164-year gap.
Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution
Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution permits citizens in the District of Columbia to vote for Electors for President and Vice President. The amendment was proposed by Congress on June 17, 1960, and ratified by the states on March 29, 1961...

, nationally ratified in 1961, permits Washington, D.C. voters to elector Presidential electors along with residents of U.S. states. The district is uniquely provided no more electoral college
Electoral college
An electoral college is a set of electors who are selected to elect a candidate to a particular office. Often these represent different organizations or entities, with each organization or entity represented by a particular number of electors or with votes weighted in a particular way...

 votes than states with a single Congressional Representative, or three. Amendment 23 permits limited application of Article Two of the United States Constitution
Article Two of the United States Constitution
Article Two of the United States Constitution creates the executive branch of the government, consisting of the President and other executive officers.-Clause 1: Executive power:...

, and also permits Amendments 15
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

, 19
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

, 24
Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax...

, and 26
Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution limited the minimum voting age to no more than 18. It was adopted in response to student activism against the Vietnam War and to partially overrule the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. Mitchell...

.
Amendment 23
Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution permits citizens in the District of Columbia to vote for Electors for President and Vice President. The amendment was proposed by Congress on June 17, 1960, and ratified by the states on March 29, 1961...

 limits some of Congress's "Exclusive" powers. Amendment 23 might not apply if Congress changes the name of the District of Columbia. Amendment 23 marks the start of partial re-enfranchisement status for the 1964 Presidential Election.
Delegate and Local Offices

DC had a non-voting delegate in Congress from 1871 to 1875, but that post was also abolished by the US Congress. The post was reestablished in 1971. The delegate cannot vote for bills before the House, nor floor votes, but may vote for some procedural and committee matters. In 1973, the District of Columbia Home Rule Act
District of Columbia Home Rule Act
The District of Columbia Home Rule Act is a United States federal law passed on December 24, 1973 which devolved certain congressional powers of the District of Columbia to local government, furthering District of Columbia home rule...

 reestablished local government after a hundred-year gap, with regular local elections for mayor and other posts.
US Constitution as applied to DC Citizens

Since 1801, most of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 has not applied to the District, because of Congress's "exclusive" interpretation (Rights Supporters say "unchecked and unbalanced", but a neutral reporter might say "without Checks and Balances") of Article One, Section 8, Clause 17. Most of Articles One
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...

, Three
Article Three of the United States Constitution
Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts as created by Congress.-Section 1: Federal courts:...

, Four
Article Four of the United States Constitution
Article Four of the United States Constitution relates to the states. The article outlines the duties states have to each other, as well as those the federal government has to the states...

, Five
Article Five of the United States Constitution
Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the Constitution may be altered. Altering the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment and subsequent ratification....

, Six
Article Six of the United States Constitution
Article Six of the United States Constitution establishes the Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States made in accordance with it as the supreme law of the land, forbids a religious test as a requirement for holding a governmental position and holds the United States under the...

, of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 are no longer enforced for these US Citizens. Amendments 14
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, 15
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

, 19
Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920....

, 24
Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax...

, and 26
Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution limited the minimum voting age to no more than 18. It was adopted in response to student activism against the Vietnam War and to partially overrule the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. Mitchell...

 are not enforced unless subsequent to Amendment 23. Article II-2-2, "Advice and Consent" in the appointment of Federal Judges, as well as State and Local judges, is no longer available to Washington, DC Citizens, since 1801. Article IV,4,1, the "Guarantee of the Republican Form of Government" at the State Level, has not been enforced by the US Congress for Washington, DC, citizens since 1801.
Comparisons

No NATO (US Military Allies) nor OECD Country (US Industrialized Allies) until 2009, disenfranchises Citizens of their respective National Capitals for national legislature elections. No US State disenfranchises citizens of their own Capital.

Residents of the former portion of the District of Columbia that was returned to Virginia (through retrocession) vote under the same rules as other Virginia residents, despite a significant Federal presence, including the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

, Washington Reagan National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is a public airport located south of downtown Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia. It is the commercial airport nearest to Washington, D.C. For many decades, it was called Washington National Airport, but this airport was renamed in 1998 to...

, the Patent and Trademark Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

, US Marshals Headquarters, Drug Enforcement Agency Headquarters, US State Department's training campus, and Central Intelligence Agency offices.

The "National Capital Area" imprecisely composed of Washington, DC, and neighboring counties in Maryland and Virginia has increased from a population nearly 1 million citizens with almost 903,000 (or 90%) disenfranchised during World War II, to nearly nearly 4 million today, but only 600,000 (or 15%) disenfranchised. Lack of Representation in US Congress has been a major factor in removing national head quarters to neighboring counties that still have voting rights and Congressional vote trading. Re-enfranchisement of intelligence officers since World War II to minimize national security concerns has been major source of Executive Branch support for moving intelligence agency headquarters such as the CIA, NSA, NRO, CSS, and NIMA headquarters to neighboring counties with voting rights.
Quasi State

Because Maryland was extremely interested that the national capital be near Maryland, it did little to protect rights of Maryland Citizens converted into Washington, DC Citizens. Washington DC has been described as either "reduced to a US territory", or a quasi state, or a portion of Maryland. US Territories, such as Puerto Rico's, are neither taxed, nor fully represented, nor permitted to vote in Presidential elections, yet Washington, DC, is taxed, and votes in Presidential Elections, but not fully represented in Congress. DC Citizens are full US Citizens, and if they move to another State have full voting rights in that State. Some suggest that Washington, DC, should be clearly "retroceeded" (returned) to Maryland. Others suggest that DC should be treated as a Military base, and have its full voting rights restored by an act of Congress. The passage of the 23rd Amendment, restoring US Presidential Elections to DC, has re-affirmed the District of Columbia is no longer a portion of Maryland, but rather a federal district.
Opponents of Voting Rights Arguments and Time Line

Opponents of restoring voting rights are almost always politically conservative representatives, and since the President Nixon's Southern Strategy (1968 and 1972) almost exclusively Republican. The largely urban, African American, liberal constituency almost invariably votes for the opposing Democratic party. Support of full voting rights to the district undoubtedly would cede a certain amount of power, however small, to the party's political opponents. Southern Conservatives have, unsurprisingly, strenuously opposed restoring full voting rights to Washington, DC citizens' through various legislation. This notedly included opposition among the most conservative states to the 23rd Amendment, which restored (limited) presidential voting rights to the district.

Puerto Rico (a U.S. commonwealth territory)


U.S. federal law applies to Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, even though Puerto Rico is not a state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

. Due to the Federal Relations Act of 1950, all federal laws that are "not locally inapplicable" are automatically the law of the land in Puerto Rico (39 Stat. 954, 48 USCA 734). According to ex-Chief of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court Jose Trias Monge
José Trías Monge
José Trías Monge was a lawyer and judge in Puerto Rico. He served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico from 1974 to 1985. He was appointed, without any prior court service, by Gov...

, "no federal law has ever been found to be locally inapplicable to Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans were conscripted into the U.S. armed forces; they have fought in every war since they became U.S. citizens in 1917. Puerto Rico residents are subject to most U.S. taxes. However, these American citizens have no Congressional representation nor do they vote in U.S. presidential elections.

Various scholars (including a prominent U.S. circuit court
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Maine* District of Massachusetts...

) judge conclude that the U.S. national-electoral process is not a democracy due to issues around voting rights in Puerto Rico
Voting rights in Puerto Rico
Voting rights of United States citizens in Puerto Rico, like the voting rights of other United States territories, differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories do not have voting...

. Both the Puerto Rican Independence Party
Puerto Rican Independence Party
The Puerto Rican Independence Party is a Puerto Rican political party that campaigns for the independence of Puerto Rico from United States suzerainty....

 and the New Progressive Party
New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico
The New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico is a political party that advocates for Puerto Rico's admission to the United States of America as the 51st state...

 reject Commonwealth status. The remaining political organization, the Popular Democratic Party
Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico
The Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico is a political party that supports Puerto Rico's right to self-determination and sovereignty, through the enhancement of Puerto Rico's current status as a commonwealth....

 has officially stated that it favors fixing the remaining "deficits of democracy" that the Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 administrations publicly recognized through Presidential Task Force Reports.

Pre-revolutionary America


The disfranchisement of British subjects in America led to the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 under the rallying cry "No taxation without representation
No taxation without representation
"No taxation without representation" is a slogan originating during the 1750s and 1760s that summarized a primary grievance of the British colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution...

".
Minors

Minors
Minor (law)
In law, a minor is a person under a certain age — the age of majority — which legally demarcates childhood from adulthood; the age depends upon jurisdiction and application, but is typically 18...

 under the voting age can be considered disfranchised. While this is because most of those under the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

 lack the capacity to cast an independent vote, minors are fully subject to taxation by regional and federal governments.

Disability



Failure to make adequate provision for disabled electors can result in the selective disenfranchisement of disabled people. Accessibility issues need to be considered in electoral law, voter registration, provisions for postal voting, the selection of polling stations, the physical equipment of those polling stations and the training of polling station staff. This disenfranchisement may be a deliberate facet of electoral law, a consequence of a failure to consider the needs of anyone other than non-disabled electors, or an ongoing failure to respond to identified shortcomings in provision.

Note that in the case of disabled voters the issue may be actual disenfranchisement of someone previously able to vote, rather that ab initio disfranchisement. This may result from the transition from non-disabled to disabled, from changes in the effects of a disability, or changes in the accessibility of the electoral process.

Access Issues


Access presents special difficulties for disabled voters.
  • Eligibility—Some nations restrict the franchise based on measured intellectual capacity. Potential voters with learning impairments, mental health issues or neurological impairments may also find themselves barred from voting by law.

  • Registration—Registration difficulties may disenfranchise disabled people through inadequate access provisions. For instance the UK Electoral Register
    Electoral register
    The electoral roll is a listing of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The register facilitates the process of voting, helps to prevent fraud and may also be used to select people for jury duty...

     is updated annually by a largely paper-based process offering poor accessibility to people with visual or learning impairments.

  • Postal Voting—Postal voting for disabled voters requires ballots that are appropriate for visually impaired voters. The lack of a private, accessible voting booth makes postal voting inappropriate for others with specific physical and other disabilities.

  • Polling Stations—Polling stations must offer the same physical accessibility that apply to other public facilities (parking, ramps, etc.) There must be sufficient polling stations to minimize queueing, which discriminates against those with mobility, pain or fatigue based impairments. In 2005, 68% of polling stations were potentially inaccessible to disabled voters.

  • Equipment—Polling stations must be clearly signposted. Low-to-the-ground polling booths and voting equipment must be available. Equipment must enable independent voting by visually and/or physically impaired voters. In 2005 30% of UK polling stations were not in compliance with the law that requires a large print ballot and a physical template.

  • Staff—Staff must understand the necessity of taking steps to ensure access and be able to show how to use equipment such as physical templates, as well as in "disability etiquette" to avoid patronizing these voters.

Campaigns for Improvement


The disability rights movement has increased attention on electoral accessibility. Campaigns such as Scope's 'Polls Apart' have exposed violations at polling stations.

In the USA


Many states intentionally retract the franchise from felons. Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

, Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Washington, West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, and Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 do not allow persons convicted of a felony
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 to vote while they are in prison or on parole. Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

 extends the disfranchisement period five years after release.

A single felony conviction results in permanent disfranchisement in 10 other U.S. states, as does a second conviction in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

. In addition to these 11 states, 19 disfranchise felony probation
Probation
Probation literally means testing of behaviour or abilities. In a legal sense, an offender on probation is ordered to follow certain conditions set forth by the court, often under the supervision of a probation officer...

ers. These 30 plus five others disqualify parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

es from voting. Two states—Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 and Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

—allow prison inmates to vote. Disfranchisement is a separate, optional punishment.

Some states consider dishonorable discharge
Military discharge
A military discharge is given when a member of the armed forces is released from their obligation to serve.-United States:Discharge or separation should not be confused with retirement; career U.S...

 a felony conviction and disfranchise those receiving one.

Felons are also prohibited from voting in federal elections, even though their convictions were for state crimes. States with permanent disfranchisement prevent ex-convicts from ever voting in federal elections, even though ex-convicts in other states convicted of identical crimes may be allowed to vote in such elections.

As of 2005 at least two court cases are challenging felony disfranchisement: Locke v. Farrakhan in Washington State and Hayden v. Pataki
Hayden v. Pataki
Hayden v. Pataki is a legal challenge to New York State's law disenfranchising individuals convicted of felonies while in prison and on parole. The initial pro se complaint was filed in the U.S...

 in New York. The NAACP LDF was involved in both cases.

Disfranchisement due to criminal conviction is discussed extensively by the Sentencing Project
Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project, based in Washington, D.C., promotes "more effective and humane" alternatives to prison for criminal offenders. It has produced several influential reports on inequalities in the U.S...

, an organization attempting to reduce prison sentences and ameliorate negative effects of incarceration. Although the information provided by this organization is biased against various practices, the website provides a wealth of statistical data that reflects opposing views, and from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government and various state governments.

In the UK


The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 suspends suffrage of some but not all prisoners. For example, civil prisoners sentenced for nonpayment of fines can vote. Prior to the judgment in Hirst v United Kingdom (No 2) convicted prisoners had the right to vote in law but without assistance by prison authorities voting was unavailable to prisoners. In Hirst, the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 ruled that First Protocol Article 3 requires Member States to proactively support voting by authorized inmates. In the UK this policy is under review.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, former Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs
Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs
The Secretary of State for Justice is a senior position in the cabinet of the United Kingdom. It was created in 2007 replacing the abolished Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, which was originally intended to fulfil those functions of the office of Lord Chancellor which related to the...

 who stated that the ruling may result in some, but not all, prisoners being able to vote. The consultation is to be the subject of Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court. Separate challenges by the General Secretary of the Association of Prisoners, Ben Gunn, by way of petition to the European Union Parliament, and John Hirst to the Committee of Ministers are underway.

In Ireland


To comply with the judgment in Hirst v United Kingdom (no 2), the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 passed a statute allowing convicted prisoners to have postal votes.

In Germany


In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, 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
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

, electoral fraud
Electoral fraud
Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both...

, intimidation of voters, etc.) and for a duration of two to five years. All convicts sentenced to at least one year in prison also automatically lose the right to be elected in public elections for a duration of five years, and lose all positions they held as a result of such an election.

In Israel


Inmates are allowed to vote in Israel, and there is no subsequent disfranchisement following parole, probation, or release from prison. Neither courts nor prison authorities have the power to disqualify any person from exercising the right to vote in national elections, whatever the cause of imprisonment. Local scholarship suggests that criminals have a special interest in influencing the political process.

In other countries


In some countries, such as China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, disfranchisement due to criminal conviction is an exception, meted out separately. Losing voting rights is usually imposed on a person convicted of a crime against the state (see civil death
Civil death
Civil death is a term that refers to the loss of all or almost all civil rights by a person due to a conviction for a felony or due to an act by the government of a country that results in the loss of civil rights...

) or one related to election or public office.

See also


  • Disfranchisement after Reconstruction era (United States)
  • Felony disenfranchisement
    Felony disenfranchisement
    Felony disenfranchisement is the term used to describe the practice of prohibiting people from voting based on the fact that they have been convicted of a felony or other criminal offence...

  • Hirst v. the United Kingdom (No. 2)
  • Lishenets
    Lishenets
    A lishenets , from Russian word лишение, "deprivation", properly translated in this context as a disenfranchised, was a person stripped of the right of voting in the Soviet Union of 1918 — 1936...

     (disfranchised in the Soviet Union
    Soviet Union
    The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

    )
  • Non-citizens (Latvia)
    Non-citizens (Latvia)
    Non-citizens in Latvian law are individuals who are not citizens of Latvia or any other country but, who, in accordance with the Latvian law "Regarding the status of citizens of the former USSR who possess neither Latvian nor other citizenship", have the right to a non-citizen passport issued by...

  • Nuremberg Laws
    Nuremberg Laws
    The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

  • Political alienation
    Political alienation
    Political alienation refers to an individual citizen's relatively enduring sense of estrangement from or rejection of the prevailing political system....