jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Sun Dec 9 08:05:26 PST 2007
Jan Kok> Sent: 09 December 2007 09:31
> Do you have any information about where this "one-voter,
> one-vote principle" came from and what it really means?
A search on "one man, one vote" reveals some relevant UK history, mainly from England.
Proposals for equal male suffrage (with some interesting exceptions - no treasurers, no lawyers!) were being made in the early
1600s. Such demands were made by The Levellers in the 1650s, when the emphasis appears to have been on suffrage.
The Oxford Little Dictionary of Quotations (on-line) attributes "One man shall have one vote" to John Cartwright in "The People's
Barrier Against Undue Influence", published in 1780. I cannot find any more information to show whether Cartwright was primarily
(or only) concerned with the suffrage, or with the number of votes or both.
Certainly during the early 1800s in England, "one man, one vote" covered both equality in the right to vote AND equality in the
number of votes, because some electors then had two or more votes.
Since universal adult suffrage (only since 1928!!) and the setting of constituency boundaries by independent Boundary Commissions,
"one person, one vote" in the UK has tended to be used to point up deficiencies in the voting system - predominantly plurality or
multiple plurality. Now we use six different voting systems for public elections within the UK, but sadly we still use plurality
and multiple plurality for some of the most important.
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