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Representation of the People Acts

Representation of the People Acts, statutes enacted by the British Parliament to continue the extension of the franchise begun by the Reform Bills (see under Reform Acts). As a result of the government's dependence on the unified efforts of the whole people in World War I the Representation of the People Act of 1918 qualified as voters (with a few exceptions) women over 30 years of age and all men of 21 years or over who could establish short residence. The basis of representation in the House of Commons was fixed at 1 to 70,000. The Representation of the People Act of 1928 qualified all women on the same terms as men. The Representation of the People Act of 1949 reenacted and codified previous legislation relating to the conduct of elections and illegal electoral practices; it abolished the university constituencies and the additional vote given to the occupiers of business premises, thus eliminating plural voting. The Representation of the People Act of 1969 lowered the voting age to 18.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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