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VOTE

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 217 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VOTE and VOTING. The Latin votum, derived from vovere, not expressly make provision for concealing the identity of the to vow, meant a solemn promise, hence a wish, desire or prayer, , person registering the vote is " open." Some methods of in which senses the doublet " vow," derived through French, voting still employed (as in the case of parliamentary elections is used now chiefly. " Vote " is specially employed in the sense for some of the English universities, where votes may be sent of a registering of one's choice in elections or on matters of by post) must necessarily reveal the manner in which the elector debate, and the political meaning is the only one which requires has recorded his vote. It is in connexion with the election comment. of members of representative bodies—especially legislative Ancicnt.—In ancient Greece and Italy the institution of bodies—that the qualifications for and methods of voting suffrage already existed in a rudimentary form at the outset become especially important. Practically every civilized of the historical period. In the primitive monarchies it was country has accepted and put in force some form of representacustomary for the king to invite pronouncements of his folk I tion, which may be defined as the theory and principles on on matters in which it was prudent to secure its assent before- which the obtaining of a vote is founded. These are dealt hand. In these assemblies the people recorded their opinion with in the article REPRESENTATION, and it will be sufficient by clamouring (a method which survived in Sparta as late as to give here the various qualifications which are considered by the 4th century B.C.), or by the clashing of spears on shields. different countries as sufficient to give effect to the principle This latter practice may be inferred to have obtained originally of representation and the methods of recording votes. In in Rome, the word suffragium meaning literally a responsive detail these are given for the United Kingdom and the United crash. Owing to the lack of routine in the early monarchies States in the articles REGISTRATION of Voters and ELECTIONS, and aristocracies of Greece and Italy the vote as yet lacked and for other countries under their respective titles in the importance as ah instrument of government. But in the days sections dealing with the Constitution. of their full political development the communities of these The first consideration is the age at which a person should countries had firmly established the principle of government be qualified for a vote. This in a large number of countries according to the will of majorities, and their constitutions is fixed at the age of manhood, namely, twenty-one years of age, required almost every important act to be directed by a formal but in Hungary the age is fixed at twenty years, in Austria vote. This rule applied equally to the decisions of general twenty-four years, while in Belgium, Baden, Bavaria, Hesse, assemblies, administrative councils and law courts, and obtained Prussia, Saxony, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway the age alike in states where suffrage was universal and where it was is twenty-five years, and in Denmark thirty years. Some restricted. countries (e.g. Austria, Germany, France) have adopted the In every case the taking of votes was effected in the form of principle of what is often termed " manhood or universal a poll. The practice of the Athenians, which is shown by suffrage," i.e. every male adult, not a criminal or a lunatic, being inscriptions to have been widely followed in the other states entitled to a vote, but in all cases some further qualifications of Greece, was to hold a show of hands (xetporovi.a), except than mere manhood are required, as in Austria a year's residence on questions affecting the status of individuals: these latter, in the place of election, or in France a six months' residence. which included all lawsuits and proposals of ostracism (q.v.), A common qualification is that the elector should be able to were determined by secret ballot (+'ipfrwper, so called from the read and write. This is required' in Italy and Portugal and >Ooi or pebbles with which the votes were cast). At Rome some of the smaller European states, in some states of the the method which- prevailed up to the and century B.C. was United States (see ELECTIONS) and in many of the South that of division (discessio). But the economic and social depend- American republics. But the most universal qualification of ence of many voters on the nobility caused the system of open all is some outward visible sign of a substantial interest in the suffrage to be vitiated by intimidation and corruption. Hence state. The word " substantial " is used here in a comparative a series of laws enacted between 139 and 107 B.C. prescribed sense, as opposed to that form of suffrage which requires nothing use of the ballot (" tabella," a slip of wood coated with wax) g more for its exercise than attainment of manhood and perhaps for all business done in the assemblies of the people. a certain qualifying period of residence. This tangible sign For the purpose of carrying resolutions a simple majority of of interest in the state may take the form of possession of votes was deemed sufficient. Regulations about a quorum property, however small in amount, or the payment of some seem to have been unusual, though a notable exception occurs amount of direct taxation, indeed in some cases, as will be in the case of motions for ostracism at Athens. As a general seen, this is rewarded by the conferring of extra votes. rule equal value was made to attach to each vote; but in the In the United Kingdom possession of freehold or leasehold popular assemblies at Rome a system of voting by groups was property of a certain value or occupation of premises of a certain in force until the middle of the 3rd century B.C. by which the annual value gives a vote. This qualification of property may richer classes secured a decisive preponderance (see COMITIA). be said to be included in what is termed the " lodger " vote, As compared with modern practice the function of voting was given to the occupier of lodgings of the yearly value unfurrestricted in some notable ways. (i) In the democracies of Greece nished of not less than £1o. In Hungary, the payment of a the use of the lot largely supplanted polling for the election of small direct tax on house or land or on an income magistrates: at Athens voting was limited to the choice of officers sproperty with special technical qualifications. (2) In accordance with the varying with occupation is necessary. So in Prussia, Saxony, theory which required residence at the seat of government as a Bavaria, Hesse, Italy (unless a certain standard in elementary condition of franchise, the suffrage could as a rule only be exercised education has been reached), Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal in the capital town. The only known exception under a centralized government was a short-lived experiment under the emperor (unless the elector is able to read and write) and Russia. Some Augustus, who arranged for polling stations to be opened at election- of the states in the United States also require the payment of time in the country towns of Italy. In federal governments the a poll tax. On the other hand, in Russia, students, soldiers, election of deputies to a central legislature seems to be attested governors of provinces and police officers are disqualified from by the practice of the Achaean League, where the federal Council voting; in Portugal, bankrupts, beggars, domestic servants, was probably elected in the several constituent towns. But little is known as to ancient methods of electing delegates to representa- workmen in government service and non-commissioned officers tive institutions, and in general it may be said that the function are not electors; it must be noted, however, that the governmen4 of the new Portuguese republic promised in 1910 a drastic revision of the existing franchise. Italy disfranchises non-commissioned officers and men in the army while under arms, as do France and Brazil. The United Kingdom and Denmark disqualify those in actual receipt of parish relief, while in Norway, apparently, receipt of parish relief at any time is a disqualification, which, however, may be removed by the recipient paying back the sums so received. In some countries, e.g. Brazil, the suffrage is refused to members of monastic orders, &c., under vows of obedience. Apart from those countries where a modicum of education is necessary as a test of right to the franchise, there are others where education is specially favoured in granting the franchise. In the United Kingdom the members of eight universities (Oxford, Cambridge, London, Dublin University, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews) send nine members to parliament; in Hungary members of the professional, scientific, learned and other classes (over 8o,000) are entitled to vote without any other qualification; in Brunswick the scientific classes elect three members to the legislative chamber; in Saxony, members of scientific or artistic professions have extra votes; in Italy, members of academies and professors are qualified to vote by their position; while in the Netherlands legal qualifications for any profession or employment give a vote. Many objections have been urged of late years to the principle of according a plurality of votes to one individual on account of superior qualifications over others which he may be considered to possess. In the United Kingdom, where, roughly speaking, the principle of representation is that of taxation, the possession of qualifying property in any number of electoral districts will give a vote in each of those districts. Whether those votes can be actually registered will of course depend on certain circumstances, such as the distance of the districts apart and whether the elections are held on the same day or not. The Radical party in the United Kingdom have of late years been hostile to any system of plurality of votes (whether gained by educational, property or other qualifications), though it may be said that the tendency of some recent electoral systems has been to introduce a steadying principle of this nature. In 1906 a bill was introduced for reducing the system of plural voting in the United Kingdom; it passed through the House of Commons, but was rejected by the House of Lords. The most remarkable system of plural voting was that introduced in Belgium by the electoral law of 1894. Under it, every citizen over thirty-five years of age with legitimate issue, and paying at least 5 francs a year in house tax, has a supple-mental vote, as has every citizen over twenty-five owning immovable property to the value of 2000 francs, or having a corresponding income from such property, or who for two years has derived at least roo francs a year from Belgian funds either directly or through the savings bank. Two supplementary votes are given to citizens over twenty-five who have received a diploma of higher instruction, or a certificate of higher secondary instruction, or who fill or have filled offices, or engaged in private professional instruction, implying at least average higher instruction. Three votes is the highest number allowed, while failure to vote is punishable as a misdemeanour. In 1908—9 the number of electors in Belgium was 1,651,647, of whom 981,866 had one vote, 378,264 two votes and 291,517 three votes. In some other countries weight is given to special qualifications. In the town of Bremen the government is in the hands of a senate of 16 members and a Convent of Burgesses (Burgerschaft) of 150 members. These latter are elected by .the votes of all the citizens divided into classes. University men return 14 members, merchants 40 members, mechanics and manufacturers 20 members, and the other inhabitants the remainder. So in Brunswick and in Hamburg legislators are returned by voters representing various interests. In Prussia, representatives are chosen by direct electors who in their turn are elected by indirect electors. One direct elector is elected from every complete number of 250 souls. The indirect electors are divided into three classes,the first class comprising those who pay the highest taxes to the amount of one-third of the whole; the second, of those who pay the next highest amount down to the limits of the second third; the third, of all the lowest taxed. In Italy electors must either have attained a certain standard of elementary education, or pay a certain amount of direct taxation, or if peasant farmers pay a certain amount of rent, or if occupants of lodgings, shops, &c., in towns, pay an annual rent according to the population of the commune. In Japan, voters must pay either land tax of a certain amount for not less than a year or direct taxes other than land tax for more than two years. In the Netherlands, householders, or those who have paid the rent of houses or lodgings for a certain period, are qualified for the franchise, as are owners or tenants of boats of not less than 24 tons capacity, as well as those who have been for a certain period in employment with an annual wage of not less than X22, 18s. 4d., have a certificate of state interest of not less than roo florins or a savings bank deposit of not less than 50 florins. The method now adopted in most countries of recording votes is that of secret voting or ballot (q.v.). This is carried out sometimes by a machine (see VOTING MACHINES). The method of determining the successful candidate varies greatly in different countries. In the United Kingdom the candidate who obtains a relative majority is elected, i.e. it is necessary only to obtain more votes than any other candidate (see REPRESENTATION).
End of Article: VOTE
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GERHARD JOHANN VOSSIUS [Voss] (1577–1649)
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