Think The Constitution Guarantees The Right To Vote? You May Want To Reread It
According to Caleb Gayle from the Boston Globe, the right to vote is not guaranteed by the United States Constitution, which means millions of Americans cannot partake in their most important civic responsibility – voting.
- 2019 was an “impressive year for expanding voting rights in America,” with the “re-enfranchisement of 1.5 million voters in Florida” and restoration of voting rights for many formerly incarcerated people, the story said.
- However, Gayle wrote that these developments and accomplishments of many “committed activists are necessitated by a greater problem – we do not have an affirmative and constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.”
- The impediments to exercising voting have included:
- Stripping felons of voting rights
- Frequent voter roll purges
- Gerrymandering undermines ‘one man, one vote’
- The Electoral College undermines ‘one man, one vote’
“These are unacceptable inconsistencies in how we engage in the most fundamental method of making our democracy work,” the report continued. “These inconsistencies animated the earlier parts of the Democratic presidential primary when Senator Bernie Sanders said that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should retain the right to vote and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg emphatically argued that the presently incarcerated should not be allowed to vote. This debate is happening because the right to vote isn’t guaranteed to the extent people think.”
“But what would a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote look like?” Gayle asked. Demos, a think tank to “power the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy,” came up with 10 objectives.
- These objectives include everything from “abolishing the Electoral College to protecting against laws that directly or indirectly dilute the voting rights of historically disenfranchised communities,” Gayle continued.
- But of the 10 objectives, the most important one is to enact a constitutional right to vote.
- Although the Constitution has been amended many times to protect the voting rights of women and African Americans, each of these amendments “took decades of strife and protest to adopt and then implement,” the report said.
“Yet even now, the language of the Constitution does not provide an affirmative, unassailable guarantee that all US citizens of legal voting age will be able to vote.”
With a constitutional amendment, voting “becomes a congressional matter, and would be standardized across states.” However, Gayle reported that “Congress and its ongoing intransigence stand in the way.”
- The first bill that the new Congress members proposed, HR 1, was called the “For the People Act” which they hoped would “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box.”
- Unfortunately, Gayle wrote that the “task of automatic voter registration likely would be left up to the states because Congress would undoubtedly not pass the bill. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell killed the bill before it even found its way into a committee hearing with a single tweet: ‘H.R. 1 is the far left’s sprawling effort to seize more control of the political process.’”
This country is “past due for at least a conversation about more comprehensively securing the right to vote,” Gayle concluded. The need to pass amendments “indicates that our democracy isn’t as strong as we might think. And it is for that reason that we must consider every means to safeguard the most sacred act of a free democracy: We should at least consider constitutionally guaranteeing the right to vote.”