The following is a proposal for a Voting Rights Amendment to the US Constitution. That language is preliminary and subject to revision.
Section 1. No person shall be required to present any official form of identification when they arrive at the polls to vote in any election within the United States
Section 2. All people who arrive the polls to vote will be assumed to be eligible to vote; it will be the responsibility of the appropriate officials and jurisdictions to challenge and/or invalidate a vote if there is a reasonable suspicion of fraud
Section 3. All people eligible to vote in the United States will be registered to vote when issued their Social Security Number and Card. This registration will never lapse
Section 4. All legal residents of the United States over the age of sixteen (16) will be eligible to vote
Section 5. There shall be no laws establishing a test, written, oral, or otherwise, for establishing eligibility to vote
Section 6. The second (2nd) Tuesday of June will be the day on which state and federal elections take place. This date will be a national and federal holiday
Section 7. The Electoral College is hereby abolished in favor of a direct popular vote for President of The United States
Section 8. If convicted of voter suppression and/or intimidation a person shall lose their eligibility to vote until they have served the duration of their sentence or they have been released on parole
Section 9. If during the previous election the voters polling location had a wait of more than one (1) hour the voter will be eligible to cast their ballot on a date before election day, to be set by the local jurisdiction, or by mail
Section 10. Voting will be mandatory for federal elections with a tax penalty not to exceed One Hundred and Fifty (150) Dollars levied in the event of violation of this statute. Inability to vote due to injury or employment or childcare obligations will not be considered a violation of this statute. It is the responsibility of the local jurisdiction to report and prove a violation of this statute and the voter will have the right to challenge the accusation before a magistrate
Section 11. Any official, elected or otherwise, who votes for or signs a law or decree restricting the franchise will be removed from office and will henceforth be ineligible to hold public office
Section 12. Neither conviction of a felony, nor status as a felon, except for conviction for voter suppression or intimidation, will impact an individual’s eligibility to vote. Those imprisoned in state, federal or county prisons or jails will be allowed to vote either on site at the facility in which they are incarcerated or else be allowed to vote absentee
Section 13: Any proposed changes to polling locations or hours must be submitted to the voters for approval or rejection. Changes will be considered approved if ⅔ of the voters vote in favor of the changes. These changes, if approved, shall not go into effect until an election has intervened
Section 14: The residents of Puerto Rico, Guam, The U.S. Virgins Islands and all other United States territories and dependencies over the age of sixteen (16) will be eligible to vote for the office of President of the United States
Section 15: The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is hereby repealed
Section 16: The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation
Today the referendum asking if Luhansk and Donetsk wish to declare independence from/autonomy within Ukraine is being held (it is still unclear what the actual intention of the referendum is supposed to be) and both sides are out in full force smearing the other. The West (EU/Kyiv/US) is of course denouncing the vote as more Russian interference and as illegitimate (particularly rich when you consider how fast the West embraced the government of the leaders of the violent coup against the corrupt technocrat Victor Yanukovych…maybe because this new center-right government wishes to expand free trade into Ukraine and integrate with the capitalist West?) while the East is breathlessly denouncing the new Kyiv regime as “fascistic” and “anti-Russian”. Both sides are of course playing to their bases; Russia wants to keep control over the eastern regions of Ukraine and expand its economic sphere of influence and the West want a “stable” unified Ukraine that is ready for corporate and capitalist expansion and market liberalization. What do the people of Ukraine want? That is less that clear. Many in the east seem to want some form of federalization or at least recognition of their Russian heritage and language as well as a share of the prosperity promised by an increasingly Westernized and corporatized Kyiv. Some want independence, some want unity with Ukraine and some want to join the Russian Federation like their compatriots in Crimea. There is no clear cut answer to the question “who is in the right in Ukraine?” Everyone has their own agenda and the increasingly propagandized media (corporate dominated in the west and state dominated in the east) is happy to play each group off of the other. What is clear is that the people of eastern Ukraine want some measure of respect and the ability to control their own destiny. It remains to be seen whether this latest scheme will do that or just propel Ukraine ever closer to the brink of all out civil war.
“[…N]o citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State…”
“No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report such person’s vote.”
“If in a proceeding instituted by the Attorney General under any statute to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, it shall suspend the use of tests and devices in such State or political subdivisions as the court shall determine is appropriate and for such period as it deems necessary.”
“[The GOP controlled Legislature in PA passed the] Voter ID [law], which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
The first three quotes are from the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the greatest piece of equal rights and democracy expanding legislation passed after the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote. The last quote is from Republican Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a blatant admission of the attempt to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of PA voters, mostly Democratic leaning. By forcing anyone who wishes to vote to get a voter I.D. (which even the GOP in court has admitted will do NOTHING to stem “voter fraud”) they are administering a poll tax that is prohibited by the 24th Amendment.
Some even think that welfare recipients should not be voting at all! http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/welfare-voters-massachusetts-11479280
Florida has famously attempted to purge hundreds of thousands of black, latino, felon, and legal immigrant voters from the roles for no other reason then that they may tend to vote democratic. I say this because no other valid reason has been giving that any court, Florida election board, or Federal Court has chosen to respect. http://articles.cnn.com/2012-06-12/politics/politics_florida-voting-lawsuit_1_florida-voter-lists-voter-rolls-rick-scott?_s=PM:POLITICS
Ohio has RESTRICTED voting on weekends and sundays immediately before the election, days that are traditionally know as times when African American churches “turn out the pews” and vote en mass in Presidential elections. No reason has been given for this restriction other than “expense”. I was not aware that democracy had to come in under budget. http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/early-voting-in-ohio/
The Ohio Attorney General has also personally intervened in local election board decisions that decide when and where people my vote. As a result of his “tie-breaking vote” on this politically divided boards, Democratic leaning counties will have less voting hours than counties that lean GOP. No explanation for why this (illegal under Federal law) decision has been made has been forthcoming. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/09/1118341/-Ohio-sets-up-one-early-voting-system-for-Republican-counties-another-for-Democratic-counties
Sen. Scott Walker of MA attacks the welfare service of the state sending out voter registration forms to those receiving legal and means tested welfare. He thinks it is will only benefit his opponent Elizabeth Warren. http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2012/08/09/scott_brown_vs_elizabeth_warren_brown_accuses_welfare_office_of_boosting_warren_s_voter_base_.html
What is going on here?
Under the red herring of “voter fraud” (instances of voting fraud are literally as rare as being killed by lightning http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/policy_brief_on_the_truth_about_voter_fraud/) the GOP in many states is attempting to make it harder to vote.
Mitt Romney is trailing in every major poll in every swing state and nationally. The only way for Obama to lose (the #1 goal of the GOP according to their own Senate Minority Leader) if the numbers stay this way is for less people having access to a ballot.
Voting in federal elections is a right enshrined by the 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments, and by the Voting Rights Acts of the 1860’s and 70’s and 1965. Voting in the USA is a right and no one can take that right from you legally. No state law requiring I.D. or any other piece of paper or permit is valid if it is in conflict with any of the Federal statutes above.
All of these laws disproportionately affect African American men, single mothers, the working poor, and the elderly. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/pennsylvania-voter-id-philadelphia-blacks-latinos_n_1752480.html and http://www.brennancenter.org/content/section/category/voter_id/
The right to vote should not be decided on a state by state or county by county basis, and it should not be up to the whims of the political winds. The assumption should be made that if you show up to vote, you are legally able to vote, and if they state suspects otherwise it is up to them, and not you, to prove that you are not eligible.
Contracting voting rights is not the intention or the spirit of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Let’s not start restricting access to suffrage.
If you feel that your voting rights are being abridged in your county or state please contact the Justice Department http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/
Or the American Civil Liberties Union