Though the 1832 Reform Act is sometimes known as the Great Reform Act, its impact was relatively minor in terms of those who could vote once the act was passed. There had been a great deal of opposition to the 1832 Reform Act, so any changes were bound to be cautious in the extreme. The electorate was extended but this did not compare to the huge impact the 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts had on the British political spectrum. One of the most obvious successes of the 1832 act was that it removed from the political set-up the oddities that were rotten boroughs.
The best way to evaluate the impact of the 1832 Reform Act is to study the increase in the electorate immediately after the act was passed.
In the 1832 election, the total number of people who voted in the United Kingdom was 827,748. This was regionally broken into:
In the 1835 election, the total number of people who voted in the United Kingdom was 611,182. This was regionally broken into:
Therefore, with the exception of Wales, there was a decrease in the number of people who participated in this election.
In the 1837 election, the total number of people who voted in the United Kingdom was 797,989. In the 1841 election, the total had fallen to 593,444. The 1832 total figure was only exceeded in 1868 after the impact of the 1867 Reform Act. Therefore, though the 1832 Reform Act broke new ground, its impact on the British political scenario has to be questioned. Until 1872, there was no secret ballot and the 1832 act included no women - as did the 1867 and 1884 acts.
The impact of the 1832 Reform Act
Though the 1832 Reform Act is sometimes known as the Great Reform Act, its impact was relatively minor in terms of those who could vote…