In any electoral system it is necessary to have some means of identifying the voters, of enabling those who are qualified to vote to proceed without hindrance to the poll, and of preventing those who are not qualified from doing so. As Macaulay put it in 1841, there had to be some way of letting ‘good’ voters in and of keeping ‘bad’ voters out,1 and the problem was to devise a method that would do both, for every attempt to smooth the path of the genuine elector would make the way easy for the fraudulent voter too, while every check and test intended to eliminate the fraudulent voter would vex and deter the genuine one. And in England, where there were two electoral systems, representing the boroughs and the counties, side by side, and where until 1918 there were many different franchises, the problem was unusually complicated and intractable.


Electoral System Early Nineteenth Century Select Committee Electoral Problem Place Residence 


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  1. 3.
    A. C. Wood, A History of Nottinghamshire (Nottingham, 1947) p. 297;Google Scholar
  2. A. Temple Patterson, Radical Leicester, a History of Leicester 1780–1850 (Leicester, 1954) pp. 146–7.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    Susan Fairlie, ‘The Nineteenth Century Corn Law Reconsidered’, Economic History Review, 1965.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Prest 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Prest
    • 1
  1. 1.OxfordUK

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