According to American University Law Professor Jamie Raskin “at least 135 nations—including our fellow North American countries, Canada and Mexico—explicitly guarantee citizens the right to vote and to be represented at all levels of government.” We do not.
Yes, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments provide a legal foundation for blacks to vote unfettered, and still another permits 18-year-olds rather than 21-year-olds and older to vote. And the Nineteenth, including just over half the population—women. But as Justice Antonin Scalia argued in Bush v. Gore, 2000 the Constitution does not provide any sweeping guarantee of such a right, and it does not guarantee a Constitutional right to vote for President.
In the climate following the 2012 election season where the Voting Rights Act is under direct challenge in that same hostile Supreme Court, and numerous states continue to erect new obstacles and limitations to voter registration and voting that fall most heavily on people of color, the poor, the elderly, and the rootless college student population who, nevertheless, are citizens of the United States and quickly are eligible voters—somewhere. This glaring deficiency in the world’s proudest if no longer exceptional or best functioning democracy cries out for a petition to government to redress aggrieved voters who find it increasingly difficult to be registered to vote and to actually cast ballots.
Truthfully, our Federal system has always given the States the greatest degree and control over and sovereignty over who votes at all, and how the voting is conducted. This leaves plenty of room in any state that might have a dominant majority desirous of suppressing voting for some reason wide latitude to fatally interfere with a citizen’s ability to vote. The right to vote need not be consulted providing it is applied to all citizens similarly situated equally. Hence voter ID laws to combat non-existent voter fraud, fewer early voting or registration days. Fewer voting machines and voting officials than needed in certain precincts and election districts to discourage voting and even going back to the 1820’s a nation still in the grip of state laws that permitted only male white citizens who owned property to cast all the ballots.
We need a Federal Amendment to explicitly guarantee every single citizen the right to vote and to put the Federal Government in charge in so far as election standards are concerned that provide easy access to the ballot box for all and the fullest participation of all of us in helping elect the representatives who will make our laws and lead us in times of crisis. It ought to apply to any office and all jurisdictions where each individual citizen resides.
Struggles for Justice stands with Congressmen Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Keith Ellison of Minnesota who are in the process of introducing such a new more explicit, all-encompassing amendment that would increase voter participation and eliminate the plethora of irregularities in our elections in this country that are quite candidly a stain upon our nation’s founders, the Constitution itself, and our assertion that we are the oldest and best democracy in the world–and an exemplar of this form of self-government. The lamps are dark in the shining city upon a hill.
We cannot have a truly functioning and representative government without such an amendment to the United States Constitution. The present Supreme Court majority is hostile to all of this. It makes the issue a pressing one that must be addressed. 135 nations around the world look at the United States and shake their heads at how far behind we have fallen in our own game, what we thought was our greatest contribution to our world. Presently, it is nothing short of a national embarrassment and a fatal slow deathlike wounding of our republican form of government to its very core.