American Prospect: “Unlike citizens in every other advanced democracy–and many other developing ones–Americans don’t have a right to vote. Popular perception notwithstanding, the Constitution provides no explicit guarantee of voting rights. Instead, it outlines a few broad parameters.”
Yes, that’s true, as hard as it is to believe. We do not have a right to vote. We have a privilege to vote, only after we meet certain qualifications that states determine, sometimes with very evil intent over the years. That is why the vote was originally only reserved for rich white property owners. Over the years, the vote was given (as a gift, not a right) to non rich non-property owners, but you still had to be a white male. Then we fought a Civil War, and from that, we passed a Constitutional Amendment (the 15th) that, for the first time, mentioned the words “right to vote.”
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The original Constitution itself is silent on the right to vote. Indeed, in deferrence to the godforsaken “State’s Rights” faction, the Constitution leaves the determination of voting qualifications to each individual state. So while the 15th Amendment referred for the first time to a “right to vote” and prohibited the states from denying or abridging that right to vote on account of race, states still had significant power to deny that right to vote through literacy tests, poll taxes, and other forms of intimidation. So the 15th Amendment, and all subsequent voting Amendments (i.e. 19th (women) and the 26th (age of 18), are better understood as not establishing a right to vote but instead telling the states that you cannot deny the privilege to vote on account of race, religion, sex, or age. States were free to deny the vote in any other way they saw fit. And many states have tried to make voting as difficult as possible. Long lines, lack of polling stations, shortened registration deadlines, prohibition on felons voting, and harsh residency requirements are all examples.
So a Constitutional Amendment is required to not only explicitly spell out that right to vote, but to take away the ability of the states to deny the previous privilege to vote. There should be uniform standards and timetables for registering to vote, uniform residency requirements, uniform method of voting (i.e. butterfly ballots v. machines v. scanners v. new electric machines, etc.), uniform method of counting the vote, and a single central independent Electoral Commission charged with implementing and enforcing the same.
And while we are at it, we must reform two other problems in our electoral system that Republicans in their diabolically evil manner are exploiting. First, make the electoral college proportional in each state across the country, tying the electoral vote in a state to the popular vote. For example, in the 13 Electoral Vote State of Virginia, where President Obama won 51.16% of the popular vote, proportionally that would mean he gets 7 electoral votes, while Mitt Romney and his ironic 47% of the vote gets 6 electoral votes. Meanwhile, in Texas, with its 38 electoral votes, Mitt Romney would get 22 electoral votes, representing his 57% of the vote, and Obama would get 16, representing his 41%. Hell, third party candidates could start earning electoral votes in this scenario, depending on their percentage of the votes in certain states.
Placing such a reform in the Constitution would end Republican attempts to rig the electoral college to ensure their victory no matter how few votes they get.
Second, the same Electoral Commission that we will be setting up will also be charged with creating the representative congressional districts every 10 years after the Census. The redrawing of districts will be based on geographical and regional cohesiveness (i.e. placing who counties and towns in one district rather than slicing and dicing them to get your desired safe partisan districts) and population balance among the districts, and any consideration of partisan breakdons or composition will be unconstitutional, as would any consideration of racial or ethnic composition of districts. This too would end Republican attempts to gerrymander congressional districts so that they remain in control despite receiving the minority of the congressional votes in the 2012 election.
State’s Rights advocates, i.e. racists and Republicans, will scream about this, but fuck them. They have had their chance and all they did with their state’s rights was deny others their rights. They had their chance and their time is over.