Who is to be given the right to vote is a great problem of democracy. Today most of the people are of the view that every adult should be given the right of franchise.
They give the following arguments to support their view:-
Arguments for the adult suffrage:
(1) The source of sovereignty is the people and thus every adult should be given the right to vote.
(2) Everybody is equally affected by the laws and policies of the state. Therefore, everybody should have the right to elect his or her representative.
(3) All are equal. Those who do not take any part in politics are not taken much care of by the government. Thus for the protection of the interests of all, everybody should be given the right to vote.
(4) Adult suffrage gives some representation to the minorities. Thus there is no need of giving them separate representation.
(5) Adult suffrage is the best way of differentiating citizens from aliens.
(6) It enhances the prestige of the people in society, because big leaders come to them for securing votes.
(7) For the protection of civil rights, it is essential that the people should be given political rights, so that the government should not try to crush the liberty of the people.
(8) Elections bring about political awakening in society. In order to shake off political disinterestedness from the society, it is essential that every citizen should be given the right to vote.
(9) Adult suffrage imparts political education to the people and their interest is created in the government.
(10) It brings about national unity. The government elected on the basis of adult franchise enjoys the confidence of the people.
Arguments against Universal Adult Suffrage:
(1) Sir Henry Maine was of the view that it would hinder the scientific development of the country.
(2) Lecky pointed out the dangers of government run by ignorant masses and pleaded for a suffrage, based partly upon education and property. The legislature is essentially a machine for levying taxes and it should be chosen by an electorate restricted mainly to those who pay the taxes. Lecky further said that one of the great questions of politics which is going to arise in our day is whether as a last resort, the world should be governed by its ignorance or intelligence.
The idea that the ultimate source of power should belong to the poorest, the most ignorant, the most incapable who are necessarily the most numerous, is a theory which assuredly reverses all the past experiences of mankind.
(3) Franchise is a sacred national duty and it should not be misused. If every adult is given the franchise right, very few intelligent persons shall misuse it.
(4) The capitalists purchase the votes from the poor people and the labourers. Thus it is not proper to give the right to vote to everyone.
(5) The questions relating to administration are becoming complex day by day. An ordinary voter is incapable of understanding complete questions. Thus he elects understanding representatives.