The Struggle for Voting Rights and How the Struggle Continues to This Day

Table of Contents

Thesis Statement

Voting is a right that every citizen has access to. The law stipulates the importance of every citizen that is in possession of a national identity card to be allowed to vote. Voting rights relate to every organization and society that has to obtain leaders through voting. There are different styles of voting and applicable in various situations. The most commonly used is the secret ballot which is preferred due to the security that it provides to the voters. There are however situations where individuals are denied access to this rights due to some reasons. In this study, we aim at finding out on the circumstances that make certain citizens to be denied these basic rights of voting.


Elections form an important part of the organization which ensures that they obtain suitable candidates for certain posts. Elections are mostly carried out for the top demanding seats that require an individual of integrity. Voting ensures that the desires of the majority are implemented as it is assumed that the best solution is found in the majority. The success of an organization basically depends on the kind of leaders that are put in various positions. It may not be easy for an individual person to know the character of different individuals in an organization (Irons, 1988). Through voting, it becomes convenient to identify the right candidate through the interests that are shown by the majority. Every organization has targets and objectives that it needs to fulfill, it is usually hoped that the leaders that are chosen will get the organization towards the direction that they want to go. Members of the organization are usually informed on the traditions and objectives of the organization with the aim of adapting the same. When they are called in to vote for a certain leader, they go with full knowledge of what it is expected from them and hence doing the necessary.

The election process may be hindered by certain circumstances which include personal interests, lack of information and poor voting system. These are some of the factors that may hinder a genuine voter from exercising their legal rights. It has been the desire of international communities to ensure that every citizen that is eligible to vote is adequately informed of what is generally required (Davis, 1972). This will control on the instances where they are manipulated to make the wrong decision. Civic education has become necessary for citizens that may not be adequately informed. Despite the measures that have been taken by various governments to ensure that the voting exercise is free and fair, there are certain irregularities that have continued to be observed during elections. There is a lot of discrimination that may be shown in relation to race, gender and level of education. There are certain people in the society that are taken for granted and hence not given the right to exercise their right.


The year 1994 was to be of historical significance to South Africa. It was the year when the country was freed from apartheid. South Africa is dominated by people of various races and backgrounds which was a big issue before 1984. The whites who dominated in almost all economic sectors looked down on people from other races especially the blacks. They were exposed to a lifestyle where they have to live as per the demands and desires of the white. They hence had to obtain permission to even do what they had a right to do. They were not allowed to engage in exercises like voting as the leaders were chosen among the whites (Adamu, 2002). They were looked at as people that could not make good choices and hence had to rely on the decisions that were made on their behalf by the whites. In 1994, freedom was finally achieved and the whole world was celebrating with South Africa. The subsequent two general elections saw all South Africans queued to vote for the leaders of their choice. This was however not meant to last when the constitution was amended. The amendment made some eligible citizens to be cut out of the electoral process as they were termed not eligible. This was followed by various debates and the electoral act was considered to be unconstitutional as it denied citizens the right to vote.

Electoral discrimination was also faced in United States where by mainly literate citizens were allowed to vote. There was an eligibility test that had to be passed by the citizens who were to prove that they were literate enough to participate in the election process (Darling, 2001). In 1965, things changed for the better and the constitution gave rights to any mature citizen to participate in the process irrespective of how illiterate they were. It is mainly for this reason that the United States democracy has been esteemed all over the world. Achieving such democracy took a great deal of sacrifice on some leaders who fought for the rights of the common man. Most of the founding fathers of the democratic movement did not live to see the results but they are cherished for the efforts that they put forth.

Supporting Evidence

Voting is an important requirement for every citizen as it is a determinant of how much growth will be experienced in the country. It also determines how peaceful a nation will be due to Minimized irregularities. If illiterate individuals are made to vote for the wrong people or completely denied the opportunity to vote, it means they will be dissatisfied with the subsequent leaders and thus creating enmity amongst themselves. Some of the international bodies that are involved in intervention procedures of the elections is the United Nations. It is a body that was established with the aim of ensuring peace among different nations. Peace is mainly achieved in the area of leadership where citizens vote for a desired leader (Edmunds, 2004). It is usually the vote of the majority that will matter in determining the person that takes up the position. The UN has a charter which contains laws that are to govern it in making decisions to enhance peace among nations. In article one of section two of the charter, the UN is supposed to develop some good relationships with different nations and ensuring that citizens have access to equal rights. The organization is also supposed to take all the necessary measures to foster peace in the nations.

The voting rights were also denied to Zimbabwe by the IMF due to their poor record of repaying loans disbursed to them. This was a form of discrimination considering the fact that the country was not in a position to repay the loan. Zimbabwe has been experiencing a lot of economic challenges that have made it unable to feed its people. The country was hence not able to pay the loans that the international monetary fund had extended to them. It was also because of their economic state that they were denied such rights to vote. There were certain conditions that had to be fulfilled by the nation for them to access to the rights. In 2003, the country was able to fulfill such conditions after which they were once again allowed to participate in the voting exercise.

The voting right has not yet been functional around the world raising the need for appropriate measures to be taken. Democracies that can be considered to be healthy in the world have given priority to equal voting rights. They are democracies that have a high regard for every citizen and realize that their participation in the voting process will impact on the growth of the economy. Some of the countries that are respected for such democracies apart from the US are UK, Germany and India. Citizens should not only have a right to elect their preferred candidate but they also have a right to contest for any position that they feel they have the capability of handling. Rights of the citizens to participate in public affairs are stipulated in article 25 of the UNHCR.


Citizens should be informed of their rights to participate in election and take necessary measures to ensure that they are not denied. It is also up to them to be informed of their constitutional rights and hence working towards achieving them. When the citizens show a lack of interest in the entire process, they may not be helped due to their ignorance. As they are made aware of their rights, they should show their concern by desiring to know more.

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