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Limited Franchise

Universal adult franchise is based on the-theory of representative democracy and popular sovereignty. As democracy rests on the belief that sovereignty belongs to people as a whole, the right to vote should be given to all the citizens regardless of the differences of religion, color, sex or creed. Secondly, it is based on the principles that ”what touched all should be decided by all.” Democracy is government by consent. The consent of the people can be expressed only when the right to vote is given to all persons. Thirdly, it is a recognised fact that those who are excluded from a share in the government and political power are also excluded from the benefits and privileges of government and the state. Therefore to exclude any section or class of people from political power by depriving them of the right to vote is to exclude them from the share in the government, and its advantages it grants or provides.

Ideally, every political party has its own opinion on every problem or difficulty facing the country. It puts it before the public by its press, posters, pamphlets, public speeches, and meetings, etc. Thus the people are able to hear the opinion of several parties and of different points of views and opinion of various parties. In this way the enable the people to form the public opinion.

In theory, public opinion is formed by political parties through discussion within a party, culminating before elections in the adoption of a platform, brings certain issues to the front, defines them, and expresses them in formulas, which invite criticism and opposition of the rival parties. Thus the people are educated and enable to form public opinion by discussion, criticism and consensus.

Another form of franchise is restricted or limited franchise. In this case the right to vote is not given to all sections and classes of the people but to a selected few. This restriction may be imposed on grounds of education, property, color, religion, race sex. etc. . Restrictions imposed on grounds of color and race were imposed in some states of the USA, where the right to vote was given to those who were literate or educated. In this way the Negroes are excluded from right to vote because they were usually illiterate and uneducated.

After the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th Century, less overt means of limiting the franchise emerged. Gerrymandering, low voter turnout and a broken primary system have warped Congress and encouraged extreme partisanship that is hurting the country and blocking smart legislation. Right now, in too many districts, the only election that matters is the party primary and that means a small and disproportionately partisan percentage of the population has an outsized influence on Congress.

  1. Campaign Finance - Candidates need to raise money in order to spend it on their political campaigns, and regulations on such fundraising affect every phase of this equation. The 2010 US Supreme Court Citizens United v Federal Election Commission 130 US 876 (2010) case concerned the plans of a nonprofit organization to distribute a film about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Court ruled that laws that prohibit campaign independent expenditures (advocacy for or against a candidate's election that is not coordinated with the candidate or the candidate's party or agents15) by corporations constitute a ban on free speech. Before Citizens United, only certain nonprofit corporations that did not accept corporate or labor contributions could use independent expenditures for or against candidates. Corporations can now make unlimited contributions to election advocacy advertising directly from the corporate treasury. Some analysts and elected officials called the Court's decision “disastrous,” “radical,” and “lawless” in publicly denouncing the ruling, predicting it would open the flood gates of corporate (and even foreign corporate) influence on elections. The central challenge in ridding the political system of the unlimited secret spending — or “dark money” — unleashed by the Citizens United decision is that that dark money makes it harder for Congress to act. This “dark money” crept into elections, misleading and influencing voters with bogus slogans and negative aggressive campaigns, which has often had enough influence to affect election results.
  2. Voter Suppression is knowingly and willfully attempting to exclude someone from casting their vote. In the past this was done through such laws as 'Jim Crow' and 'grandfather clauses.' Today voter suppression is done by means such as destroying, altering, obstructing or failing to deliver a voting ballot. More people are struck by lightning than commit in person voter fraud. Since 2000, there are only 10 cases nationally out of about 1 billion votes cast. Republicans figured out that people of color and college students were most likely to not have proper ID for voting. They are both groups that are more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. Behind closed doors, Senator’s discussed an elaborate plan to deny people their constitutional right to vote. On 05 April 2016 a Republican Election Night party, when asked why he thought Republicans would win Wisconsin in the upcoming presidential election Congressman Glenn Grothman said, “…And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well."
  3. Gerrymandering - The process by which the 435 Congerssional districts are laid out and adjusted is a function of redistricting. Currently, congressional districts are often subject to partisan politics, drawn behind closed doors to protect incumbent seats by whatever party holds a statewide majority. Districts are drawn in ridiculous shapes and cover vast areas to obtain a desired combination of voters to ensure a certain party's candidates have the electoral advantage. This is “gerrymandering,” where districts are created to obtain the desired combination of voters to ensure a certain party's candidates have the electoral advantage. Gerrymandering leads to decreased electoral competition, diminishment of representation, a decrease in the faith and trust of Americans in congressional election, and is generally harmful to our democracy. The first “gerrymander” was drawn on a map and signed into law on February 11, 1812. Elbridge Gerry, then governor of Massachusetts, signed into law a redistricting plan designed to keep his political party in power in the upcoming election. Upset that the Federalist Party was critical of James Madison’s foreign policy, Gerry signed the reapportioning plan that heavily favored his Republican party. Under an alternative system, which is also known as a top-two primary, all candidates regardless of party appear on a single primary ballot, which is open to all voters. The top two candidates from the primary then advance to the general election.

Free and fair elections are the foundation of every healthy democracy, ensuring that government authority derives from the will of the people. But to have confidence that their elections are truly free and fair, voters need to be assured of more than just a well-managed day of polling. Features of free and fair elections also include a society that encourages citizens to vote, that provides space for political parties to work and campaign freely and independent media and civil society to flourish, and that has built a judiciary capable of acting with impartiality.

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Page last modified: 08-09-2017 18:20:22 ZULU