Who has the right to vote essay

At the local level, FairVote rallies support for a constitutional right to vote through its Promote Our Vote Project , a pilot program most active in Maryland. Its unique change platform works in partnerships to advance resolutions at the organizational, campus, and local level in support of an explicit right to vote in the U. Constitution, and concrete changes in practices and policy to ensure fair and equitable voting rights. Montgomery County and Takoma Park resolutions paved the way for right to vote task forces to make policy recommendations and produce reports for recent municipal elections.

The University of Florida and Palm Beach State College passed right to vote resolutions through their student governments. These resolutions supported a national and state right to vote. They also sought practices and policies that improve the voting process for students.

How German women obtained the right to vote 100 years ago

I have never had a problem voting. American adults living in states typically can vote, but they do not have a federally protected right to vote enshrined in the Constitution. The federal government traditionally only steps in to prevent certain broad abuses, such as denying the right to vote based on race 15th Amendment , sex 19th Amendment , or age 26th Amendment.

In most states, counties design their own ballots, pursue their own voter education, have their own policies for handling overseas ballots, hire and train their own poll workers, select polling place locations, and maintain their own voter registration lists. States have wide leeway in determining policies on absentee voting, polling hours and funding of elections.


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As a result, voters and potential voters have different experiences going through the registration and voting process depending on where they live. These differences can be even more pronounced in some local elections because of varying degrees of federal and state support. States also currently have the power to explicitly limit the franchise. Current data shows states have chosen to deny nearly six million American citizens the right to vote because of felony convictions, including millions who have completely paid their debt to society.

Some states even deny certain classes of overseas voters the right to vote. Not necessarily. In the early decades of the country, several state legislatures actually appointed electors to the Electoral College, rather than hold popular elections in their state. In the Bush v. In addition, it took a constitutional amendment in to enable residents of Washington, D. But the millions of American citizens living in territories like Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam still cannot vote for president. What administrative problems do we have with voting in the United States and how will a constitutional amendment help?

Only clear standards will ensure that every vote counts. States would be held accountable for running fair elections, and the federal government would be responsible for ensuring that funds were available to meet those high standards. The same study reports an estimated 9 million eligible people attempted to register but failed due to voter registration barriers like missed deadlines and changes of residence. A Constitutional Right to Vote will give Congress broad discretion in setting standards to ensure greater equality in election administration.

What groups of Americans would be protected by a right to vote amendment? They pay taxes and can be drafted into the military, but do not vote for president. While this amendment would not specifically give citizens of the territories the right to vote automatically, it does open the doorway for them to gain the ability to vote for president.

Residents of American Samoa are not actually American citizens; they are nationals. Current legislation to establish a right to vote specifies that only American citizens would have a right to vote, so nationals would not be included. As is obvious from the Peter Hart study, a common misconception is the word "right" denoting a sense of entitlement. People who hold this view shy away from considering the ability to vote a right because it suggests it has simply been given to us without historical struggles, thereby demeaning the individuals who have laid their lives on the line to forge and preserve our freedoms.

From a rational perspective, this is shortsighted when one considers the nature of the United States Bill of Rights, a document outlining the protected rights an individual enjoys as a U.

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The first ten amendments to the Constitution were written and ratified as the Bill of Rights to ensure that government wouldn't encroach on certain fundamental rights, including but not limited to such cornerstones of representative democracy as: free speech, free press, free religion, and free assembly. No one denies that we fought for these rights during the Revolutionary War, yet they were still called "rights" because of their value as the fundamental fabric of our democracy.

With the ability to exercise our voice and elect our representatives being today recognized as another cornerstone of a healthy democracy, why not apply this same logic to voting? How one views voting rights is clearly a moral judgment. By asking ourselves if the ability to vote should be a privilege, right, or responsibility, we ask ourselves, "what is the true nature of democracy" and "what is ultimately just.

Below are a few considerations:. Here at FairVote, we do a lot of work on voting rights.

Whether it is to help ensure each vote is counted equally, each voter has a sufficient opportunity to exercise their right to vote, and whether voters have meaningful choices and a fair chance to win representation, FairVote sees voting as a fundamental right of citizenship equal to our First Amendment freedoms in its importance for sustaining representative democracy.

Even though the United States Constitution has several amendments which stop voter discrimination, it lacks a sufficient base to guarantee voting as a right.

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To overcome the states' view of voting as a privilege, we support the right to vote explicitly enshrined in a Constitutional amendment H. Only with its passage -- or passage of a bill more simply affirming voting as a right - can voting truly be considered a right rather than a privilege. This isn't to say we are ungrateful. It is undoubtedly a privilege to live in the United State and we are right to honor the men and women who made our democracy what it is today.

We all enjoy the benefits and freedoms of living in a liberalized democracy which encourages us to exercise our voice and be an active citizen. While it is a privilege to live in the United States, FairVote believes the ability to vote should be enshrined as a right within the U. So we will end where we started, addressing the question, "is the ability to vote more of a right, a privilege, or a responsibility?

The court noted at the outset that the rights entrenched in the Bill of Rights are not absolute and are subject to limitation in terms of section Applying the limitation analysis in terms of section 36, the court proceeded to examine the reasons advanced on behalf of government for curtailing the voting rights of the targeted category of felons. This consideration arose against the backdrop of the need to utilize mobile voting stations for those categories of voters unable to travel to polling stations to cast their vote.

The potential for tempering and interfering with such votes during transportation and storage presented certain challenges. The second justification advanced for the disenfranchisement of the targeted group of convicts was the need to minimize the attendant costs of running an election. Rejecting this line of argument, the court had the following to say:. After rejecting all three of the government advanced purposes, the court concluded that the disenfranchisement of the targeted group of prisoners could not be justified and was consequently unconstitutional.

I agree with the NICRO decision to the extent that the respondents failed to show a rational connection between the targeted group of convicts and the purported government purpose. On the facts, there was no evidence that the nature of the offence was a consideration in disenfranchising the targeted group of felons. In other words, no specific category of crimes, such as particular heinous crimes, were targeted by the purported amendment with the unfortunate effect that the target group was unreasonably broad and unjustified in certain circumstances.

Were the amending provisions specifically tailored to target a narrow more focused group of hard-core criminals convicted of heinous crimes such as rape, murder and other such violent crimes, one could speculate that the amending legislation would have had a better chance of passing constitutional muster. In the Canadian Elections Act was passed which prohibited prisoners from voting, irrespective of the length of their sentence.

The Supreme Court held unanimously that a blanket ban infringed the constitutional right to vote, guaranteed by section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court thus embarked on a two-stage analysis as formulated in R v Oakes.

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Voting - Wikipedia

Limits on it require not deference, but careful examination. With regard to the application of the test, the Court noted that the government asserted two objectives for denying prisoners the right to vote. The Chief Justice, speaking on behalf of the Court, held that:.

This delegation from voters to legislators gives the law its legitimacy or force. In sum, the legitimacy of the law and the obligation to obey the law flow directly from the right of every citizen to vote.

The government gets this connection exactly backwards when it attempts to argue that depriving people of a voice in government teaches them to obey the law. Denying a citizen the right to vote denies the basis of democratic legitimacy.


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  • In particular, the government fails to establish a rational connection between s. With respect to the first objective of promoting civic responsibility and respect for the law, denying penitentiary inmates the right to vote is more likely to send messages that undermine respect for the law and democracy than messages that enhance those values. The legitimacy of the law and the obligation to obey the law flow directly from the right of every citizen to vote. To deny prisoners the right to vote is to lose an important means of teaching them democratic values and social responsibility. That not all self-proclaimed democracies adhere to this conclusion says little about what the Canadian vision of democracy embodied in the Charter permits.

    Moreover, the argument that only those who respect the law should participate in the political process cannot be accepted. Denial of the right to vote on the basis of attributed moral unworthiness is inconsistent with the respect for the dignity of every person that lies at the heart of Canadian democracy and the Charter.

    It also runs counter to the plain words of s.

    The right to vote should be restricted to those with knowledge

    In the case of Hirst v. United Kingdom Hirst 2 , the ECHR considered a British law that put a blanket ban on all prisoners, regardless of their crime, for the entire duration of their sentence. In he pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. In Parliament re-enacted a blanket ban on prisoners serving a term of imprisonment from voting in parliamentary or local elections.

    This ban was slightly modified by the Representation of the People Act , to allow remand prisoners to vote. The applicant argued that the right to vote was one of the basic rights that underpinned a democratic society and that the general ban was disproportionate, arbitrary and impaired the essence of the right to vote.