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6th February 1918

Representation of the People Act

Before the act was passed, only 58% of the male population and none of the female populace were eligible to vote. The Representation of the People Act provided for suffrage (the right to vote in parliamentary elections) to all men over 21, and women over 30. The UK electorate increased from eight to 21 million and the Irish electorate doubled to 1,936,673. For the first time, women and many agricultural labourers and urban workers could vote in a parliamentary election. However, only 40% of the UK population of women were enfranchised by the act.

Voting Rights, Parliament
1918 Sinn Féin poster: 'The women of Wicklow will cast their first vote for independence'
National Library of Ireland [EPH E7]