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introduction to franchise discussion documents

New translation, the Magna Carta
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introduction to franchise discussion documents gives entry to a series of documents examining how to improve public behaviour in modern society.
marker introduction to franchise discussion documents marker citizenship curriculum marker The logic of ethics
marker franchise by examination, education and intelligence marker power, ownership and freedom Introduction - socialism & sociology
marker herds and the individual - sociology, the ephemeral nature of groups
marker the Magna Carta, 1215 – a new English translation by abelard.org

Curious Republic of Gondour by Mark Twain
from Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Kantsaywhere by Francis Galton

from In the Wet by Neville Shute
utopianists : Robert Heinlein, H.G. Wells, William Morris
historic UK vote allocation
marker for related short briefing documents examining the world’s growing crisis, start at replacing fossil fuels, the scale of the problem

Franchise by examination, education and intelligence and its associated documents provide an argued case for how to manage large, mostly urban, populations that comprise a wide mix of education, natural abilities and ethical/moral groundings. In such situations, what is sauce for the goose cannot be sauce for the gander . Trying to manage societies on the basis of “everyone is equal” has shown, and is showing, itself to be both unfair and unworkable.

The background items come from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Any reader aware of any other source they think relevant, (in particular, varying voting systems presented as ‘merit-related’) please inform abelard, complete with a clear outline summary.

Curious Republic of Gondour
The reason Mark Twain gives for the franchise arrangement is perhaps unconvincing.

In the Wet by Neville Shute
The reasons give for the extra votes are tenuous and, in my view, unconvincing.

Kantsaywhere by Francis Galton
Francis Galton imagines a social system based on eugenics (selection by ancestry).

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
The reasons given for only the military having the vote are not entirely unconvincing.

utopianists : Robert Heinlein, H.G. Wells, William Morris
Reviewing three utopian novels,
For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs by Robert Heinlein, 1939 three GoldenYak (tm) award
A Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells , 1905 three GoldenYak (tm) award
News from nowhere by William Morris, 1890
These three books have very little of interest on social organisation, with the possible execption of Heinlein's promotion of Korzybski as a form of psychotherapy.

Twain’s and Shute’s franchise models reinforce the establishment, similarly to the old UK system of plural voting.

historic UK vote allocation

The United Kingdom first introduced plural votes for some voters in 1818. Plural voting was allowed until 1948-9, when the Labour government of the day ‘reformed’ the Representation of the People Act.

Those qualifying for plural votes included

  • graduates of various universities. The last university seats were held in Oxford and Cambridge universities.
  • owners of further property in constituencies other than their home constituency
  • Members of Parliament
  • business rate-payers

    All of these qualifications were in addition to receiving the vote for being a householder, or paying £10 or more rent per year.

    Further, property-owners were known to break up and sell cheaply parcels of their property to men who would vote under instruction.


“[Because] some constituencies (e.g. the City of London) returned two members, [...] someone might vote there (twice, for two separate MPs) because of his business, once somewhere else because of his residence and a fourth time for his university seat. [...] Presumably, at least in theory, this chap could have studied Medicine at Edinburgh and then Law at Cambridge, thus picking up votes in two university seats, even before he started qualifying for votes based on the numerous properties he acquired all over the country in the course of his successful medico-legal career.” [Example courtesy of Steve Glynn]

Plural voting continued in the UK until 1948, when the then Labour government was able to pass an act abolishing all examples of plural voting. (The Labour Party had attempted this before, for instance in 1930, but failed.)

On the other hand,

“[t]he Conservative attitude was based on a deeply disparaging view of the opinions and judgement of most of the unenfranchised working class, which was thought to consist largely of young casual labourers. This attitude was indeed shared by many Liberals; party managers on both sides, for example, believed that poorer voters were more volatile.”

“ The[ Conservatives’] ideal electorate was one selected by tests of fitness to vote, as measured - in this order - by education, property and age. Plural voting was still justified as a means of representing interests within a constituency, and as a safeguard for property,[...]
[Quoted from David Close]

The Introductory Surveys series of pages has vast amounts of information on UK franchise. Here is an example page.

end notes

  1. “King James I of Scotland, and later of England, brought to the English Parliament a practice which had been used in the Scottish Parliament of allowing the Universities to elect members. The King believed that the Universities were often affected by the decisions of Parliament and ought therefore to have representation in it.”

    Oxford and Cambridge were the first English universities to benefit, and this was gradually extended to other universities: Dublin, London, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St. Andrew, Edinburgh, Queen's University, Belfast, National University of Ireland. (The Scottish universities shared seats, and the universities in southern Ireland were removed from voting in 1922.)

    “The voters were the graduates of the university, whether they were resident or not, who had the vote for their University in addition to any other vote that they might have.” [Quotes and data from encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com]

  2. Established in succeeding Representation of the People Acts.

  3. David Close, The Collapse of Resistance to Democracy: Conservatives, Adult Suffrage and Second Chamber Reform, 1911-1928, The Historical Journal, 20 (1977), pp. 893-918. [Copy at st-andrews.ac.uk]
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