All citizens of the UK, aged eighteen and above, are now able to vote in the local and national elections – but this hasn’t always been the case. For many years people were prohibited from voting on account of their race, sex and wealth. In nineteenth-century Britain only male property owners were allowed to vote.
In the 1840s a group of men known as the Chartists tried to change this. They demanded that all men over twenty one should be able to vote and any man, even if they didn’t own any property, could run for Parliament. Although the movement ultimately failed they raised some important questions that needed answering.
In 1867 Parliament passed the Second Reform Act which increased the electorate to almost 2.5 million but voters still had to be property owners or to pay over £10 in rent a year. After the Third Reform Act of 1884, two in three men had the vote. But by the year 1900 women still didn’t have the vote.
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