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Voting Rights

Nurse Roberta MacAdams, one of first women elected to a Legislature in Canada The right to vote is not universal, and throughout our history it has been granted to and withheld from a surprising number of groups.  In 1867, only about 16% of Canadians met the requirements for voting.  While these requirements were gradually dropped, until 1917 only adult white males could vote.  Then, the Wartime Elections Act of 1917 temporarily gave the vote, both federally and provincially, to all servicemen, including natives and minors, and their female relatives.  At the same time, however, conscientious objectors and "enemy aliens" had their voting rights revoked.

The democratic ideal of universal suffrage had yet to beFifth Legislature, 1921: exclusively white and male realized.  Until 1948, many Asians could not vote federally, while Canada's Inuit and status Indians were not granted the federal vote until 1950 and 1960 respectively.  Aboriginal Albertans first went to the polls provincially in 1967.  In 1970, the federal voting age was lowered to 18 from 21, and most provinces followed suit.  Most adult citizens now have the right to vote, although some jurisdictions exclude inmates of prisons and mental institutions.

The Women's Auxiliary Committee of the United Farmers of Alberta, 1915


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