Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Historical Election Violence Map

Violence around democratic elections seems to be a growing problem in the 21st Century. To understand this problem and find possible solutions it might be a good idea to explore the violence which was prevalent around elections in Victorian England and how that pattern of violence was eventually eliminated.

The 20 general election in Britain between the Great Reform Act of 1832 and the Great War starting in 1914 were often accompanied by extreme violence. This violence often included major riots involving thousands of people, leading to the deaths of many people and large scale property damage. For example just on one day (17th November 1868), on the first day of polling in the 1868 General Election, there were at least 18 different riots across England & Wales. 

The Victorian Election Violence Map visualizes nearly 3,000 incidences of violence which occurred in England and Wales during the 20 General Elections held between 1832 and 1914. The map shows where violent election events took place, from minor incidents (such as the breaking of windows) to major political riots involving the deaths of many people.

For example a map marker placed over the Welsh town of Blaenavon recounts one of the 18 riots which occurred during the 1868 election. During this riot,

"property and businesses were vandalised and looted in the town, and the military arrived from Newport and cleared streets. 45 prisoners were marched to Pontypool and the soldiers returned to Newport. 1000 men from Blaenavon marched on Pontypool to rescue the prisoners"

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