From the History in the Margins Archives: You Can’t Vote Because….

If you’ve been hanging around here on the Margins for a while, you may have read this one before. I think it’s worth repeating.

[Suffragists in parade] (LOC)

From sixth century Athens on, who has the vote and why has been a touchy and evolving subject in democracies. People who already have the vote have hesitated to extend it to others for two basic reasons. Those with the vote don’t think those without the vote have the capacity to make good choices. Those with the vote fear they will lose power.

Over the centuries, people in power have come up with plenty of reasons not to extend the franchise to those who don’t yet have it. Here are a few of the classics:

You can’t vote because

  • You’re a slave
  • You’re a woman
  • You don’t own property
  • You don’t own enough property
  • You don’t practice the right religion
  • You are the wrong race or ethnicity
  • Your father or grandfather couldn’t vote

If you’re lucky enough to have the vote, use it. Because democracy is a terrible thing to waste.


  1. Lydia on October 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Bravo! What a great post. I think a lot of people have forgotten just how recently it was that voting rights were only given to certain portions of the population.

    • pamela on October 3, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      It’s easy to take it for granted. And dangerous.

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