Voting rights

Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called active suffrage, as distinct from passive suffrage, which is the right to stand for election.


Suffrage universel dédié à Ledru-Rollin, Frédéric Sorrieu, 1850
Suffrage is often conceived in terms of elections for representatives. However, suffrage applies equally to referendums.

In most democracies, eligible voters can vote in elections of representatives. Voting on issues by referendum may also be available. For example, in Switzerland this is permitted at all levels of government. In the United States, some states such as California, Washington, and Wisconsin have exercised their shared sovereignty to offer citizens the opportunity to write, propose, and vote on referendums; other states and the federal government have not. Referendums in the United Kingdom are rare.

Suffrage is granted to qualifying citizens once they have reached the voting age. What constitutes a qualifying citizen depends on the government’s decision. Resident non-citizens can vote in some countries, which may be restricted to citizens of closely linked countries (e.g., Commonwealth citizens and European Union citizens) or to certain offices or questions.

Categories: Social Issues

Tagged as: