Monday, October 3, 2014
Via The New York Times:
Voters in 15 states are finding it’s much harder to vote this year than it was in 2012, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Some Americans in these states were protected by Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court struck it down in the Shelby County v. Holder decision.
Take politicians in the nearly 10,000 voting jurisdictions out of the business of deciding who can vote and which votes count.
Prior to the ratification of the 15th, 19th and 26th amendments to the Constitution, millions of Americans were denied the right to vote because of the color of their skin, their sex or their age. All three amendments, along with the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, outlawed discrimination, but didn’t protect Americans’ right to go to the polls.
Many states have found ways around outright discrimination. Voter ID laws, ending same-day registration and early-voting, and slowing the move to online voter registration are all popular ways to make it harder to vote. Thirty-two states have voter ID laws that keep some 23 million Americans from voting. Amercians without photo ID are disproportionately low-income, disabled, minority, young and older voters.
To end these great inequalities, we've proposed a constitutional amendment to give Americans an affirmative right to vote and empower Congress to protect that right. "Every citizen of the United States who is of legal voting age,'' it reads, "shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides." That right would take politicians in nearly 10,000 voting jurisdictions out of the business of deciding who can vote and which votes count, by making it tougher for courts to uphold laws that make voting more difficult.
We need an affirmative constitutional right to vote because our country prides itself on democratic principles. Ensuring that this right is constitutionally protected confirms our commitment to this essential tenant of democracy.