A Constitutional Right To Vote

Feb 1 2013 @ 6:15pm

Bouie wants one:

In our large, polarized democracy, voting has been an issue fraught with partisanship and ideology. But the ability of states to restrict participation stems from the peculiar fact that Americans don’t enjoy the right to vote. We came close once. Following the end of the Civil War, an early draft of the 15th Amendment featured a blanket right to vote (excluding women); this was rejected in favor of limited suffrage for freedmen. The reason? Southern Republicans didn’t want to enfranchise former Confederates, Western politicians feared that Chinese would participate, and Northern states worried that they would have to abandon their own restrictions on voting.

Supporters believe that “an affirmative constitutional right would, at the very least, force state lawmakers and election administrators to think twice about measures and election procedures that harm voters.” Justin Green has questions:

Is having to wait in line a violation of the right to vote? Are voter-ID laws in violation of such an amendment? Are states with shorter intervals for voter registration in violation? Are felons exempted from this right? If so, is there anything that might strip said right? Bouie brings up several of these as reasons for such a right, but I’m uncertain to what extent he feels we should empower federal authorities to act.