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The Life and Times of Sir George Grey, K.C.B.

The Franchise

The Franchise.

The franchise was conferred upon all male adults of good character within the colony. There were, however, different qualifications —residential and freehold. The bulk of the voters were so by virtue of their manhood and residential qualifications; but there were many owners of property who claimed under the freehold franchise.

The elector whose franchise was residential could be but on one electoral roll, that for the district in which he resided; while the freeholder might possess land in a dozen different districts and have his name on as many electoral rolls. During a general election this state of things enabled landed proprietors to vote on the same day in many districts, and not infrequently elections were turned by this system of plural voting.

After many arduous conflicts Sir George Grey succeeded in altering the law, so that at a general election one voter should have but one vote. Thus, although the name of an elector may still remain upon numerous electoral rolls, he must choose one district in which to vote. That one vote having been recorded, a vote given by him in another district would be a breach of the law making him amenable to fine and imprisonment as well as dis franchisement.