Electoral Commission uses female suffrage centenary to talk about barriers to women voting

The centenary of women getting the right to vote has sparked a call from the Electoral Commission to break down barriers to voting that still remain for some women.

Picture credit: GL Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Picture credit: GL Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

The commission, which exists to ensure elections are well run and voters are well informed on how to vote, is making the call alongside its contribution to celebrating the anniversary.

It started its push last week ahead of one of the key dates today, the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act on 6 February 1918.

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Through its social media channels, it has been encouraging women to download its ‘I vote’ sign and post a picture of themselves holding it up with the hashtag #Vote100.

The commission’s message to the press, put out yesterday, focused more on its ambition to make it easier for as many women as possible to exercise their right to vote. It called on the government to make registering to vote and voting anonymously easier and to ensure every woman knows their vote is theirs alone.

Claire Bassett, chief executive of the commission, said: "Those with unforeseen caring responsibilities could be aided, women escaping domestic violence would benefit and we can enable 100 per cent of women to exercise their right to vote and cast their ballot freely and with no undue influence."

In addition, four other senior women at the commission were pictured with the ‘I vote’ poster and wrote blogs remembering what their first vote meant to them as part of the push.

In one, Bridget Prentice, an MP for 18 years and now a commissioner at the Electroral Commission, remembered: "It was 1969 and I was studying Higher History at my all-girls school in the East End of Glasgow. We talked of nothing else...as we debated the news that 18-year-olds were to get the vote the following year."

An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: "The Commission has been working closely with local authorities in particular to mark the anniversary and it has been great to see the role women play in modern-day elections being celebrated, including at Monday’s Association of Electoral Administrators annual conference."

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