635. The right to participate in free elections under domestic law.

English law has for several centuries recognised the importance of free elections to Parliament1, and the right to vote was considered to be a fundamental right for centuries before the highly-restricted franchise2 was first meaningfully expanded during the mid-19th century3. Between 1832 and 1928, the scope of the right to vote expanded from a relatively limited class of male landowners to all men and women4 over the age of 215, and subsequent statutory developments abolished the possibility

of plural voting in general elections (thereby introducing the principle of 'one person, one vote')6 and lowered the voting age from 21 to 187


The right to vote is now guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights8

. In parliamentary elections it is restricted to United Kingdom citizens, citizens of the Republic of Ireland and Commonwealth citizens who are resident in the United Kingdom, provided they are aged 18 years or over and not otherwise legally incapable of voting