Franchise should be based on Educational Qualification!
Qualifications of the Voters:
For franchise many qualifications have been discussed from time to time, and property qualification is one of those, which we discuss now.
(1) Those who favour the ownership of property as a qualification for the exercise of suffrage, argue that only the propertied persons should be given the right to vote, because they understand the importance of law and social order and they shall not make any law which may pose a threat to law and order.
Those who have no property, if given the right to vote shall elect representatives who will make revolutionary laws and will interfere with the public property, will interfere with the public property.
(2) The supporters of property qualification for the exercise of franchise say that the right to vote should be given only to those persons who pay some taxes. Otherwise, the right to vote given to those who have no property will help the election of representatives who will not care for economy.
John Stuart Mill says, “It is important that the assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something towards the taxes imposed, because those who do not pay are bound to be lavish and any power exercised by them will be a violation of the fundamental principle of free Government”.
Those who do not accept the property qualifications for the exercise of franchise give the following arguments:
(1) Since laws affect all, the right to exercise franchise should be given to all and not only to property owners.
(2) Property is no criterion for intelligence. A poor man and an educated man can be intelligent. Thus it is not justified to accept property as a qualification for the exercise of franchise.
(3) Property may be acquired through fraud, ruse and other undesirable means. Thus it is totally wrong to accept it as basis for exercise of franchise.
(4) The propertied people do not make progressive laws and they only safeguard their own interests. They do not make any law for the welfare of the labourers. Thus, the right to vote should also be given to the poor people so that they may also be able to raise their voice in order to protect their rights.
Franchise Based on Educational Qualifications:
Those who support the view that franchise should be based on educational qualifications give the following arguments:
(1) The illiterate persons do not know who deserves their votes. Generally they are taken in by fiery speeches, caste consideration, relationship and other things. Sometimes they cast their votes in favour of incompetent people, who is harmful for the country.
(2) Illiterate persons do not think the voting right as a sacred duty. They have no knowledge of complex problems of the country.
(3) If an illiterate person is given the right to franchise, there will be an equal influence of the vote of an illiterate and educated person.
(4) Illiterate voters can take any wrong decision. John Stuart Mill says, “I regard it as wholly inadmissible that any person should participate in the suffrage without being able to read, write and perform the common operations of Arithmetic. Universal teaching must precede universal enfranchisement. The exclusion of a class is justified when that class js likely to make a dangerously had use of vote.”
Those who do not agree with these arguments say that everybody should have the right to vote, because laws affect everyone. Secondly, the government also does not care for the interests of those persons who have no voting rights.
Therefore, the illiterate persons should also be given the right to vote. Thirdly, it is not necessary that an educated person is more intelligent than an illiterate person. Sometimes it is seen that illiterate persons are more intelligent than educated persons. To support this view, the examples of Shivaji, Haider Ali and Ranjit Singh can be given.