Poor were denied the right to vote

Poor people were suspended from voting if they received public aid. Photo: the National Library.

Many poor in Norway were denied the right to vote

Wednesday, 17th of July marks the 100th anniversary of a democratic milestone for the whole of Norway. the Norwegian Patent removed the provision that deprived those who had received poor help the right to vote. That happened on this date, in 1919.

The provision was introduced at the same time as universal voting rights for men, in 1898. When women were given the right to vote on equal terms with men- in 1913 – there was a large increase in the number of voters who were affected by the suspension.

“At the peak – during the general elections in 1915 – 1348 inhabitants of Møre & Romsdal were prevented from using the right to vote because they had received poor help. In view of all the election dates for which the provision was in effect, there are thousands who were barred from the polling stations,” Parliamentary President, Tone W. Trøen (Conservatives), enlightens.

Worker districts in the large cities were hardest hit. There were protests from both the working class itself and from people who, in close proximity, saw how unfairly the provision affected the communities.

“In the course of the 20 years the suspension of the poor was in effect, it hit unfairly. Many more than what it was originally intended to be affected. On a nationwide basis, two out of three were women. Many of these were widows and single mothers, who struggled to make ends meet. They, therefore, were in need of help from the public,” Trøen concludes.



Celebration in Oslo

On July 17th, 1919, a unanimous Parliament decided to remove the provision, which deprived the poor of the right to vote, from the Norwegian Constitution. This, after several rounds of relaxation of the paragraph.

The Norwegian Parliament marks the anniversary throughout the year, with several events and its own anniversary page. There will be a celebration of the anniversary at the Eidsvoll Square, in front of the Norwegian Storting in Oslo, on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019.

© Regjeringen.no / #Norway Today
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