Universal Suffrage

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  • In its strictest sense, the term means that every human being in a country has the right to vote in that country. In reality, universal suffrage rarely exists in a nation due to restrictions on who is deemed eligible for voting. The French political scientist Frederic Bastiat in The Law (1850) explained the logic of voting restrictions based on one's capacity, because in a democracy the elector or voter does not vote just for himself or herself but for everybody. Suffrage restrictions traditionally depend on the following variables: gender, religion, wealth, education, race/ethnicity, age, residency, birth country, and criminal record. In the United States, apart from the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, state governments can decide who can vote in their state. For example, the ...

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