Posted by / Friday 8 June 2018 / No comments

The disadvantages of universal adult suffrage

Vote Generic 2016 America Campaign Candida

Definition of universal adult suffrage
Suffrage can be defined as the opportunity given to citizens to cast a ballot to elect people who offer themselves for political office through parliament or the executive. 

A distinction is made between limited suffrage and universal suffrage. A limited suffrage refers to limitations set in the legal instruments where only some categories of people can vote based on their race, religious persuasion, age, sex, wealth, mental status and any others. The universal suffrage on the other hand does not set any limitations to the types of people who can vote in an election.

It is expensive
One of the arguments against universal adult suffrage is that it is too expensive. Elections in themselves are expensive to conduct. Now where universal adult suffrage is adopted, then  every eligible voter is expected to vote. Electoral materials have to be transported to every nook and cranny of the country. More electoral officials have to be engaged and remunerated for their work. The political parties, contesting the election, have to make sure they reach every potential voter to increase their chances of getting more votes, so they also spend more money on their campaign. Therefore universal adult suffrage is very expensive.

Illiterates can misuse their votes
There are complex issues at stake during elections. Issues that must be properly explained to the electorates. It so happens that the illiterate members of the society may not be able to understand the complex national issues that are being peddled by the political parties. All they know is to go and cast their ballots on the day of election. The fear is that they may not exercise their franchise based on sound political conviction.

Vote buying and selling
In the poorer parts of the world where democracy seems to be operating, it is easy for politicians and their agents to convince the poor of the society to sell their votes. The trick is to give them money on the voting day to go and vote in a particular direction to favour the sponsor(s). Since people cannot be really sure if the voters would vote the way they are told, some may go to the stronghold of their opponents and buy off the identity cards that would be used for the election or find clever ways to dispossess them of such documents. Therefore it is argued that universal adult suffrage is disadvantageous because votes can be sold and bought.

Danger of electing incompetent people into power
There is the danger that some incompetent people may find their way into power when they have no business to be there. This is so because in some countries of the world, people vote not because they understand any of the national issues but because of the dominance of a particular party in the constituency. They may also vote because the candidate is from their ethnic group or has any other form of affiliation. Under such circumstances, some incompetent people can meander their way into power. Therefore, universal adult suffrage is dangerous.

It is just a fa├žade
The concept of universal adult suffrage looks and sounds great. No one can argue against a concept that gives the opportunity to every qualified person under the laws of the land to vote in an election. However, some critics see it as just a smoke-screen. In some countries, a candidate may win majority of the popular votes and still lose the right to take political office because an electoral college eventually puts a candidate into office. In the United States of America, the Electoral College consists of 538 electors and a majority of 270 is needed to elect a president. It may happen that a candidate may win the popular votes but his opponent may secure majority of the electors in the Electoral College. This can turn the tables in his favour.

1. a.What is Universal Adult Suffrage?
    b. Highlight five disadvantages of Universal Adult Suffrage


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