The Electoral Commission’s suggestion that online abusers should lose their vote undermines not just the principle of universal suffrage, but democracy itself
The British government’s claim to legitimacy rests entirely on the existence of universal suffrage. Theoretically, at least, we accept the state’s power to fine, imprison and otherwise penalise us not only because it happens to be the best at wielding power, but because all adult citizens have some input into the laws we are governed by. That’s pretty much the central principle of representative democracy.
Voting rights are not a special privilege. They are not something the state should be able to take away as a form of petty discipline, like a parent deciding an obstinate child should go to bed without dessert. So it’s worrying to see the Electoral Commission recommend that “social media trolls” be punished in this manner, treating a core civil right as something that can be blithely withdrawn.