Not sure where I was going with this episode, Tales From The Drop Box Episode 119, if you are keeping track. I have spent some time thinking about elections and voting as my lovely wife is running for re-election for the school board in the city where I live. We are a little more than 6 weeks away from November 6 – a date that should be on everyone’s calendar. Voting is a privilege of citizenship. I say privilege because, although citizens enjoy the right to vote, a surprisingly large number of those eligible to vote, do not. Even more surprising, at least to me, are the number of citizens who are not able to vote because they are not eligible. That last statement should absolutely shock your conscience.
Your “right to vote” was earned through the service of the brave women and men who have defended our nation, fought in our wars, and died in preserving our freedoms. The “right to vote” appears 5 times in the Constitution but nowhere in the Constitution does it specifically state that “all individuals have the right to vote.” The Constitution merely rules out specific limitations on “the right to vote.” A right not guaranteed in affirmative terms isn’t really a “right” in a fundamental sense. How do we know that the right to vote is not a right and not a privilege then? Because the right to vote is often taken away by the State. The most egregious problem is that different states have imposed different “burdens” on the right to vote effectively creating a class of citizens who are deemed “worthy” of the privilege.
A privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. All citizens should have the right to vote, but they do not. We have permitted our elected officials to chip away and to usurp the right to vote by enacting legislation designed to remove or unduly burden the ability of certain groups/classes of individuals to vote. In so doing, the privileged class converted a right appearing in the Constitution to a mere “privilege” through the permanent disenfranchisement of citizens with felony convictions, superfluous voter identification requirements and complex voter registration laws that are designed to eliminate the right to vote of the poor, the uneducated, and those who do not conform to the politics of a particular state. That is, we live in a country that has permitted voting as a privilege to be enjoyed by “worthy” people and not by others.
Without uniform election laws, the prevalent patch-work election rules and regulations that vary state-by-state will continue to disenfranchise millions of voters countrywide. This disenfranchisement will continue to target those persons who have committed a felony in the past, do not possess government issued identification, or lack a fixed residence. Finally, as is becoming obvious, more persons will be disenfranchised because States run elections as cheaply as possible. This lack of funding makes it more difficult to vote as States respond by placing polling places in remote locations or simply by not having ballots for registered voters. This is shameful in a Country that prides itself in “free” elections. As States place more burdens on voting, we lose our rights. If we fail to vote when we are able, then we shouldn’t complain that we didn’t get te government we wanted. However, if we wrongfully prevent our citizens from voting then we destroy our democracy.
So, as the midterm elections approach, exercise your privilege because you are voting for those citizens our government says shouldn’t vote. Perhaps in time, voting will be a right… and not a privilege.
For an interesting take on the issue of undue burdens see: Undue Burdens and Potential Opportunities in Voting Rights and Abortion Law (Pamela S. Karlan).
Here is what you’ll find in Episode #119:
- Therapie Taxi – “Crystal Memphis” (Hit Sale)
- The Living Eyes – “Party Theme” (Modern Living)
- Mystic Braves – “Under Control” (The Great Unknown)
- Hank Wood and the Hammerheads – “Love is a Cold White Tile” (Hank Wood and the Hammerheads)
- Loose Tooth – “Asteroid” (Keep Up)
- Megative – “Can’t Get Away” (Megative)
- The Blank Tapes – “Paradise” (Candy)
- Culture Abuse – “Dip” (Bay Dream)
- Boston Manor – “Flowers in Your Dustbin” (Welcome To The Neighborhood)
- As It Is – “The Wounded World” (The Great Depression)
- WSTR – “Fling” (Identity Crisis)
- The Beggars – “Game” (The Day I Lost My Head)
- Illuminati Hotties – “Paying Off The Happiness” (Kiss Yr Frenemies)
- Public Image Limited – “Flowers of Romance” (Public Image Is Rotten)
- Amy Shark – “Mess Her Up” (Love Monster)
Et quand je trippe, j’ai tort sous cannabis, je dors et quand je bois j’ai tort quand je me bats j’ai tort . . . it’s the brush of my hand in a wide hallway, it’s the long goodbyes that give us away, it’s the song that comes on and hurts the most.