The suffrage (also known as the franchise) is the ability or right to vote in public elections. In the present day all adults over the age of 18 possess this right, provided they have registered to vote. British and Irish citizens have reciprocal rights to vote in each other's countries. Commonwealth citizens are allowed to vote, as are UK nationals who have lived abroad for less than 15 years. The only categories of people who are excluded from taking part in parliamentary elections are:

  • · people under the age of 18

  • · EU citizens (apart from those from the Irish Republic), although they can vote in local elections

  • · Members of the House of Lords (on the grounds that they have a permanent voice as members of one of the two Houses of Parliament)

  • · prisoners (this exclusion is subject to a challenge from the European Court of Human Rights, but to date the government has ignored it)

  • · those convicted of a corrupt or illegal electoral practice, who are barred for five years

  • · people who are compulsorily detained in a psychiatric hospital.