The Quasi-Constitutional Right to Vote in the United Kingdom

Heather Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concept of a constitutional right to vote is familiar to lawyers and citizens in the United States. In contrast, the United Kingdom lacks a developed constitutional doctrine of voting rights: there is relatively little case law and limited academic discourse on the subject. Constitutional law and practice have long honored the authority of electors to choose members of Parliament, but the notion that this is a justiciable constitutional right (as distinct from a general political liberty) is a relative novelty. Its basis lies in the electoral rights included in the Human Rights Act 1998, and in judicial doctrine developing those protections. This article considers this short history of voting as an actionable human right, and argues that the right remains at best a quasi-constitutional one, bearing some features of a full constitutional right to vote and lacking others. Some of those deficits may be curable within the existing legal and political regimes for its protection; others would require more radical constitutional reform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-516
Number of pages24
JournalElection Law Journal
Issue number4
Early online date8 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2014


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