Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
5 November 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:10am

Top ten voters’ rights

This week the government announced its reversal of the Forfeiture Act 1870, allowing prisoners the v

By Rob Higson

This week, the government announced its intention to reverse the Forfeiture Act of 1870, which would allow 70,000 British prison inmates the right to vote. Here is our (occasionally serious, mostly bizarre) pick of the top ten voters’ rights.

November 2010 – votes for prisoners, UK

Government expected to announce it will give the vote to 70,000 prisoners currently serving sentences in UK jails, reversing the Forfeiture Act 1870.

September 2008 – votes at 16, Austria

Austria becomes the first EU country to lower the voting age in national elections to 16.

July 2008 – votes from birth, Germany

Bill in German parliament proposes a law that would allow parents to vote for their children.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

March 2000 – internet voting, Arizona

Voters able to cast their votes electronically in Arizona Democratic primary, the first binding election for public office using the net. Out of 78,000 ballots cast, over half were sent in via computer.

January 2000 – voting for your rival, Uzbekistan

Islam Karimov is re-elected president of Uzbekistan. His opponent Abdulkhafiz Dzhalalov gets 4 per cent of the vote not including himself, as he voted for Karimov.

December 1999 – deceased voting, Chile

Ernesto Alvear, 74, from Valparaiso, declares he will never again try to vote, after being denied for the third time because records indicate he is dead.

September 1997 – votes from space, Texas

New law allows astronauts who are in space on election days to vote using email. The astronaut David Wolf casts his vote for Houston mayor from the Russian space station Mir two months later.

March 1992 – “alien voting”, Maryland

Non-citizens in Takoma Park, Maryland, are given the vote in local elections. Only six Maryland municipalities allow non-citizens to vote in city elections in the US.

January 1903 – “recall” voting, Los Angeles

LA ratifies a special election to decide whether a public office holder should be replaced before his elected term has expired.

July 1867 – lodgers who pay £10 rent per year, UK

Second Reform Bill passes third reading and grants the vote to urban working men and lodgers who pay rent of £10 a year or more.


You can follow Rob Higson on Twitter.