As we are all aware over the last 30 years the governments of the major industrialized countries have, little by little, taken away many of the gains in rights and benefits workers fought for years to achieve. Typical examples are Thatcher's assaults on the unions and watering down of medicare in the U.K. The Harris government in Ontario bringing back the 60 hour work week which an employer can force someone to work. The Bush government's blatant introduction of laws to violate the average citizens' privacy.
Nor is it governments alone stealing workers rights. Many companies have shipped their manufacturing plants to third world countries where people will work for less and are more quiescent. Besides creating unemployment at home it dilutes the power of the unions and reduces the percentage of workers belonging to unions. More companies employ temps who work for less with no job security or benefits, some employ "interns" who they don't even pay.
So it should not be surprising that the powers that be should begin to reduce workers electoral rights. An article in June's Socialist Standard, the journal of our companion party in the U.K., focused on such actions in the U.S.
According to author ALJO, it applies to "those without I.D.s, those convicted of crimes, those that need to work, those that can't afford childcare, those that can't travel, and often this disenfranchisement is deliberate" -- no kidding! Also, "the American Civil Liberties Union noted new restrictions on voting will affect up to 80 million . . ."
In some states, it costs $25 bucks to get I.D. Imagine an unemployed guy, whose wife works for a pittance at Walmart, paying $25 to vote if the kids are starving – fat chance. Some states say a birth certificate will be O.K., but not everyone has them and again one has to buy them. There are other restrictions, and the curious are advised to ALJO's article, but one fact is crystal clear, none of this affects the wealthy.
Nowhere at any time has the vote been handed to the working class on a plate. In the states it was a bribe offered by the emerging capitalist class if the fledgling working class (mostly farmers) would fight for them, in their attempts, to drive out the British. From the start of the Chartist Movement in the U.K. in the 1830s, until women got the vote on equal terms with men in 1928, there was a near century of partial victories, each grudgingly given.
There is no reason to think this is as far as it will go. If the capitalist class succeed in the U.S. others will follow suit. Our critics on the left will sneer and say, "see we told you socialism could not be established through the franchise. If the capitalist class thinks it necessary they will suspend the ballot." They might, but if they do, the working class can organize their own ballot and present it to the capitalists as "fait accompli."
One thing's for sure, when enough people become socialists, nothing the capitalists can do will avail them.