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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The universal adult franchise guarantees that every adult citizen, regardless of gender, wealth, caste, or any other factor, has the right to vote and elect their representative.
  • The right to equality is the essence of this.
  • Different countries have adopted Universal Adult Franchise at various times and phases.
  • The right to vote for public officials and to approve or disapprove proposed legislation is known as suffrage.

INTRODUCTION

The universal adult franchise guarantees that every adult citizen, regardless of gender, wealth, caste, or any other factor, has the right to vote and elect their representative. Franc, which means free in French, is where the word franchise comes from. Citizens have the unrestricted freedom to select their representative under adult franchise. The right to equality is the foundation of this.Denying someone their right to vote is equivalent to denying them their right to equality, their right to participate in democracy, and their right to have their voice heard. The Universal Adult Franchise underpins democracy. Every citizen who is over a certain age has the ability to cast a ballot in elections under the concept of universal adult suffrage. Depending on the country, this age varies. The voting age is 25 in nations like Japan and Denmark, 18 in countries like India, Russia, and the US, and 21 in Norway. In India, the 61st Constitutional Amendment reduced the voting age from 21 to 18.Different countries have adopted Universal Adult Franchise at various times and phases. These were dependent on the nation's political and economic climate at the time. This article first examines the development of universal adult suffrage in nations including France, the United States, the United Kingdom, and India before examining the impact the idea has on democracy.

FURTHER DETAILS

In representative governance, the right to vote for public officials and to approve or disapprove proposed legislation is known as suffrage. The history of the right to vote, or franchise, shows how it was gradually expanded from a small, privileged segment of society to include every adult. The right to vote for adults has been established by almost all modern countries. It is viewed of as an unalienable right that every adult citizen by virtue of citizenship inheres in rather than as a privilege granted by the state to its populace. It serves as the main safeguard in democracies to make sure that the governed are held accountable by their governments.

All adult citizens are granted the right to vote under universal suffrage, also known as universal franchise, general suffrage, and common suffrage of the common man. This is true regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, political stance, or any other restriction. Universal suffrage was first used by reformers in Britain in the 19th century to refer to just universal manhood suffrage; the vote was later extended to women during the women's suffrage movement, which started in New Zealand in the same century.

HISTORICAL ASPECT

Governments in the first modern democracies only allowed people with property and wealth to vote, which nearly usually meant a minority of men. Other limitations, such mandating that voters adhere to a particular faith, were in place in some regions. In all contemporary democracies, the number of eligible voters has grown over time. Many campaigns for "universal [male] suffrage" emerged during the 19th century, especially in Europe, Great Britain, and North America. Up until the latter half of the century, initiatives for women's suffrage were generally disregarded. The first of these was in New Zealand, where all adult women of all races were granted the right to vote in 1893.From there, the push for women's and universal suffrage extended throughout British colonies and abroad, though frequently only members of the dominant ethnic group were granted the right to vote (in the western world these were white people).

The Reynolds v. Sims ruling, which was founded on the one man, one vote premise, marked the beginning of universal adult suffrage in the United States. The denial of the right to freely vote for the candidate of one's choice breaches the notion of representative government, according to the judgement. Election voting in the 17th century had some requirements, such as property requirements or religious tests. Only individuals who have property are allowed to vote, but in the latter case, a religious test entails declaring allegiance to a particular church or sector.On March 9, 1789, the US Constitution came into being. Who can vote wasn't specified in the beginning. Who was eligible to vote in elections held in that state was up to each state. Black people who were not enslaved and owned property could vote in some states, but not in others. Men of all colors were able to vote in some states while only white men were permitted in others.Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone led the Woman Suffrage campaign in the US when it first began in the 19th century. The first state to grant women the right to vote was Wyoming. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was adopted after it became clear that a constitutional amendment was necessary.

After the Earl Warren-led U.S. Supreme Court established the "One Person, One Vote" principle in the early 1960s, the U.S. Congress and the Warren Court continued to defend and advance the voting rights of all Americans, particularly African Americans, through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and numerous Supreme Court decisions.The term "suffrage" is also linked especially to women's suffrage in the United States; a campaign to give women the right to vote started in the middle of the 19th century and reached its zenith in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.Prior to the advent of universal suffrage, the majority of nations had particular requirements for voters. For example, there was a property or income requirement in 18th and 19th century Britain with the justification that only those with a stake in the nation should be permitted a voice in its public affairs. At one point, only men were eligible to vote. During the transition from colonial to self-government, several newly independent Asian and African nations required a literacy requirement for voting. It is restricted in some nations to particular racial or ethnic groupings. Thus, the Old South of the United States and South Africa once prohibited their Black inhabitants from voting.All adults in India in 1950, as recognized by the Indian Constitution, regardless of race, gender, or religion, were considered citizens at the time the Republic of India was founded.Only 13% of Indians had voting rights prior to the country's independence. One of the first reports to call for both equal rights for women and universal adult suffrage was the Motilal Nehru Report. To the Simon Commission, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar also requested universal adult suffrage. When the Constitution was passed in 1949 and put into effect on January 26th, 1949, India finally adopted universal adult suffrage.India created a Constituent Assembly after winning its independence from the British in 1947, and this assembly drafted the Indian Constitution. In April 1947, it was decided that India would adhere to the Universal Adult Suffrage premise. Even though India had electoral institutions in the past, they were primarily used by the wealthy males.The Indian Constitution's 61st Amendment altered Article 326 to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. All adults in India were given the right to vote immediately thanks to the instant suffrage campaign, but in other nations the concept gradually expanded.In its preamble, the Indian Constitution declares that India would be an independent, socialist, secular, and democratic republic. India is able to fulfil these commitments thanks to the Universal Suffrage principle. India views its citizens as sovereign since they are the country's ultimate decision-makers and have the power to elect or overthrow the government. The term "republic" refers to a system in which the people and their elected representatives hold the ultimate power. This principle guarantees these rights, which are exercised by voting.In India, socialism refers to a lack of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, gender, or race, while secularism refers to a lack of discrimination on the basis of religion and a state that permits everyone to practice, profess, and spread their faith. By granting the right to vote to every sane adult without exception, universal adult suffrage enables every citizen to exercise their sovereign authority.

Article 326- Adult suffrage will be used for elections to the House of People and state legislative assemblies.— Every Indian citizen who is not less than eighteen years old on the date that may be fixed in this regard by or under any law made by the appropriate Legislature, and who is not otherwise disqualified under this Constitution or any law made by the appropriate Legislature on the grounds of non-residence, unsound mind, or other grounds, shall be eligible to vote in the elections for the House of the People and the Legislative Assembly of every State.

CONCLUSION

The term "franchise" refers to the people's ability to cast ballots and choose their representatives. The term "adult franchise" refers to the idea that all adult citizens should have the ability to vote, regardless of their caste, class, color, religion, or sexual orientation. It asks that everyone have an equal opportunity to cast a ballot. To prevent any group of people from exercising this right is to go against the equality of that group. The foundation of a democratic government is the adult franchise system. People are referred to as political sovereigns because they have the power to elect a government and remove it from office.

A representative democracy is built on the principle of universal adult suffrage. For a country to function peacefully and to sustain its citizens' wellbeing, equality is essential. The idea of universal adult suffrage reflects equality. All citizens have the right to vote in elections, upholding equality by guaranteeing that their needs and interests are taken care of. It keeps a nation together,known as gradual suffrage, the universal franchise has developed over many years in nations like France and the US.


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