Question of Voting as Right or Privilege
Article written for ProCon.org April 2008.
In Reynolds v. Sims, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in its 1964 majority opinion, penned by Chief Justice Earl Warren, that:
“And history has seen a continuing expansion of the scope of the right of suffrage in this country. The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.”
The “National Voter Registration Act of 1993,” passed by the U.S. Congress, stated:
“The Congress finds that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is a fundamental right…”
“In its 2000 ruling, Alexander v Mineta, the [U.S. Supreme] Court … affirmed the district court’s interpretation that our Constitution ‘does not protect the right of all citizens to vote, but rather the right of all qualified citizens to vote.’ And it’s state legislatures that wield the power to decide who is ‘qualified.’ As a result, voting is not a right, but a privilege granted or withheld at the discretion of local and state governments…. the U.S. is one of just 11 nations among 120 or so constitutional democracies that fail to guarantee a right to vote in their constitutions.”
George W. Bush, MBA, U.S. President, stated in a July 20, 2006 speech before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):
“President Johnson called the right to vote the lifeblood of our democracy. That was true then and it remains true today.”
Roger Clegg, JD, President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, stated in his article “Felon Disenfranchisement Is Constitutional and Justified,” from the website of the National Constitution Center (accessed May 7, 2007):
“Voting is a right, but it is also a privilege. Not everyone in the United States may vote. As a general matter, only those who have reached a certain age, are mentally competent, and are American citizens, are allowed to vote.”
Smithsonian.com The Ugliest, Most Contentious Presidential Election Ever
By Gilbert King
September 7, 2012
Newspapers were announcing that his opponent, the Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, had won. Hayes, a Republican, would indeed lose the popular vote by more than a quarter-million.
But the ugliest, most contentious and most controversial presidential election in U.S. history was far from over. It took a congressional committee to iron out the issues and decide.
From the looks of it, the 2016 presidential race will go down in the books as one of the craziest ever. For a bit of perspective, we step away from the endless news cycle to take a look back at some of the most contentious U.S. presidential elections in the nation’s history. (source : Sara Pruitt, History.com)
1800-Thomas Jefferson and his chosen V.P. pick, Aaron Burr, tied for first place, cause was Electoral College delegates voted for two contenders. The one with less votes was VP.
1824-“Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson – no candidate earned a majority of electoral votes
1860-Abraham Lincoln – ballots in most of the southern states did not even have his name
1912-Teddy Roosevelt took a bullet to the chest, spun off into the Progressive Party and ended splitting up Republican votes with Taft which caused Woodrow Wilson to win
1948-Harry Truman had internal party strife and did not know he won the race until the next day in the newspaper
2000-George Bush – contested votes in Florida ended after lawsuits and grueling vote recounts, finally Bush declared winner
I know, this seems a bit strange coming in August, but I wanted to alert voters – first time to elderly that there are available websites to check your voting status and location. This is a very helpful change from prior years and provides a good bit of information.
In case some have moved and for whatever reason have not notified the state or its agencies, like drivers license offices of your change of address, NOW would be a good time to check and correct your changes so you can be placed at the right polling location.
Here are sites and their links which cover all state searches and information.
HeadCount – Verify Your Voter Registration
National Conference of State Legislators – Voter Identification Requirements/Voter ID Laws
US Vote Foundation – State Voting Requirements & Information Update 7/13/16
As you can see from the information above, this is not a unique election in that voting, electoral college, inner party struggles have occurred before and will more than likely occur again in the future.
What is different is that THIS IS A PIVOTAL election. People may say things like “my vote won’t count”, “I have no idea who is the lesser of evils”, “the system is rigged anyway” or a dozen other excuses but stakes are too high and the world is too volatile right now for anyone to throw away their votes.
Of course, I hope Republicans (all of them) vote for the duly chosen candidate. We saw above how with Taft and Roosevelt ended up throwing the election to Wilson which is what happens when a third group jumps into the fray at the last moment.
We know that citizens must face issues that affect not only the next four to eight years but generations of the future. We know that there are elements inside and outside our country that mean us harm and hope to see the world drawn into a massive World War from which no country will be safe.
Please take the time to VOTE.
-The LAW is ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE. Do not get caught up in a scam. Fraud carries a prison sentence.
-Make sure that you follow the laws of the US and the state you live in.
-Do not let anyone intimidate you or badger you about whom you chose to vote for.
-Do not listen to all of the promises and jargon. Think for yourself, consider every possibility
……then vote YOUR choice not one being pushed on you.
-Be safe. At polling time, please don’t get brave and decide to be decked out in candidate paraphernalia
……unless you are in close groups of friends and feel you can safely display them.
-Use common sense and caution.
-Have ID or whatever you need ready. Check your ballot, any changes you see validate/protest then
-Absentee voting is in most states and if valid reason such as disabled and over 65 generally a phone call
……can keep one from standing past endurance.