Registers of Parliamentary Electors, often called Electoral Rolls, indicate the progress of democracy as well as being a record of residents in the village. An early form of register was the Poll Book. A Parliamentary Act of 1696 required the local sheriff to keep a record of county election polls, listing the electors, their qualification to vote and later their occupation. The book also records the name of the candidate for whom each elector voted, and this was made public after the election. Electoral Resisters first appeared following the passing of the Representation of the People Act in 1832 and were published together with Poll Books until 1872. Registers then continued annually up to the present day. The only years when registers were not taken were during the latter years of World War 1 (1916-1917) and World War 2 (1940-1944). Up to 1918 the right to vote was closely linked to property ownership.
The 1832 Act enfranchises townsfolk who occupied property, either as owner or tenant, worth £10 per year and to lodgers, as long as the value of the occupied property divided by the total number of lodgers exceeded £10 per year.In the counties, £10 freeholders, £10 copyholders or long leaseholders (for 60 years) and £50 tenants or short leaseholders (for 20 years), joint tenants whose separate interests amounted to 40-shilling freehold or £10 leasehold are all given the vote. This is perhaps around 3% of the population because women and poor men are excluded. The act is specific that the vote is restricted to men by adding the word “male” in front of “person”.
The 1872 Ballot Act introduced secret balloting as a measure against corruption in elections.
The new Representation of the People 1918 Act gives all men over the age of 21 and any woman over the age of 30 (under certain conditions) the right to vote but it is only ten years later on 2nd July 1928 that men and women over 21 are enfranchised.
The voting age is lowered to 18 and also the electoral register now consistently includes all those who were not 18 but would reach 18 during the period of the register so that they can vote on elections held on or after their 18th birthday.