Suffragette MadonnaInv# AM1133
Crop of 1910 postcard. Very Scarce and Extremely Popular Topic!
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called active suffrage, as distinct from passive suffrage, which is the right to stand for election. The combination of active and passive suffrage is sometimes called full suffrage.
Suffrage is often conceived in terms of elections for representatives. However, suffrage applies equally to referenda and initiatives. Suffrage describes not only the legal right to vote, but also the practical question of whether a question will be put to a vote. The utility of suffrage is reduced when important questions are decided unilaterally without extensive, conscientious, full disclosure and public review.
In most democracies, eligible voters can vote in elections of representatives. Voting on issues by referendum may also be available. For example, in Switzerland this is permitted at all levels of government. In the United States, some states such as California and Washington have exercised their shared sovereignty to offer citizens the opportunity to write, propose, and vote on referendums and initiatives; other states and the federal government have not. Referendums in the United Kingdom are rare.
Suffrage is granted to qualifying citizens once they have reached the voting age. What constitutes a qualifying citizen depends on the government's decision. Resident non-citizens can vote in some countries, which may be restricted to citizens of closely linked countries (e.g., Commonwealth citizens and European Union citizens) or to certain offices or questions.