Table 6.12b: Early 1960s: National Integration
equality but also on the practical consequences of extending the franchise to segments of the population previously excluded from the electorate. Parties expecting a net increase in their vote from extension of the franchise can be expected to promote the issue avidly. Those fearing a net loss of support can be expected to skirt the issue in public while attempting to smother it in private. If proponents of an expanded suffrage are not successful in raising it to the level of national debate, its opponents are unlikely to perform the service for them. Thus, where the existing suffrage is less than universal and the issue lies unopened, one might conclude that the objective is to limit participation in the political process, preserving the privilege for vested interests.
In countries where the suffrage is significantly delimited, legal qualifications are often serviceable devices to legitimize the exclusion of particular groups from the voting rolls. It is the intent of this variable to measure not so much the method by which certain segments of the population, if any, are to be disenfranchised, but rather the importance of those exclusions. The exclusion of illiterate immigrants is held to be less serious a limitation than, as occurred in Kenya, the debarment of most persons below the age of 40, or, alternatively, of women, whose enfranchisement even in liberal democracies is a development of relative recency. Support for the exclusion of major economic, ethnic, or racial groupings is considered to constitute the most virulent type of opposition to universal suffrage.
Since every polity believes the disenfranchisement of aliens, convicted criminals, persons of unsound mind, and nonadults to be a matter of right if not of necessity, "universal suffrage" should be construed to take account of these qualifications.
Hyneman's list of six primary considerations in voting qualifications is relevant to our concern with franchisement (1968). Hyneman finds that statutory restrictions on voting eligibility have been based on considerations of (I) competence to vote with knowledge of issues, candidates, and the situation--commonly reflected in literacy and residence requirements; (2) interest or stake in the outcome of elections--seen in residence and property requirements; (3) compliance with the laws and the actions of the political process itself--the object of restrictions on criminals and presumably members of "subversive" organizations; (4) sharing of common positions with others who are enfranchised--often used to justify disenfranchisement of women, who were felt to be represented by their husbands; (5) other means of power that the individual can use to influence government decisions--sometimes argued in opposition to clergy voting; and (6) social compatibility of population groups (usually minority groups) with the group that wields effective political power--seen in restrictions based on a variety of criteria that effectively eliminate or seriously dilute the voting strength of racial, religious, ethnic, or economic classes in society.
The nature of electoral participation, however, is as important as the extension of the franchise. Universal suffrage cannot yield meaningful participation if the voters do not have a choice among candidates in elections. Extension of the franchise is a relevant consideration only in the context of competitive elections, meaning that at least two parties present alternative sets of candidates. The nature of electoral participation can be impaired, moreover, by discriminatory restrictions on party campaigning, which restricts the voters' range of choice.