The Representation of the People Act 1918 expanded the electorate to include all men over the age of 21 and most women over the age of 30. Later that year, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 gave women over 21 the right to stand for election as MPs. The first woman to become an MP was Constance Markievicz in 1918. However she declined to take up her seat, being a member of Sinn Féin. Nancy Astor, elected in 1919, was the second woman to become an MP, and the first to sit in the Commons. The Equal Franchise Act 1928 lowered the minimum age for women to vote from 30 to 21, making men and women equal in terms of suffrage for the first time. The Representation of the People Act 1949 abolished additional votes for graduates (university constituencies) and the owners of business premises. However, as late as in 1968, only ratepayers were allowed to vote in local elections in Northern Ireland, leading to disenfranchisement and misrepresentation of the communities in the council and to the events that created Free Derry.