Voteniks and Classic Rock

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Filed Under Latest News on Mar 20 

If everybody voted, as Obama said during a speech in Cleveland, then Democrats would benefit and money would lose out. Aside from wondering exactly what money the President was referring to – K street over Wall street one would assume, but check with Hillary first please – there is the issue of how likely and how legal obligatory voting would be under the US Constitution. Among legal scholars, and constitutional experts, there seems to be a fair amount of agreement over the interpretation of voting rights that suggests there is no explicit guarantee of the right to vote in the US Constitution. There are several amendments – the 15th, the 19th, and the 26th – that prohibit discrimination against voters based on age, sex, and race. Some, like the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon has stated that the right to vote is “so implicit as to be all but explicit.” But there is no explicit guarantee of the right to vote. And some critics have labelled the right to vote as the stepchild of American Rights, shivering in the cold outside the warm glow of the Bill of Rights, where it has no abode.

Is this is a problem that needs to be fixed? And can it be fixed, even assuming that it needs to be? According to Professor Atkins of Rutgers, opting out of voting is a matter of free speech and thus any legislation that proposed to make voting mandatory in America would face First Amendment challenges in the courts, and probably would receive a sympathetic hearing in the Supreme Court. According to most legal experts interviewed on the matter, obligatory voting is likely to remain merely an idea and it is very unlikely that any individual State, for example, would actually implement legislation requiring voters to appear at the polls. It seems almost certain that many voters would recoil at the idea of being forced to vote, and not just because it would take away the option of not showing up and letting all sides of any contest – state, local, or federal – know that a certain percentage of voters are unhappy with the general state of affairs. It would take away the positive individual motivation for any voter to get out to the ballot box because he or she feels they have a stake in any given election and any given issues around that particular election. It takes away a vital liberty: the liberty to choose to vote, or to choose not to vote. Under mandatory legislation, voting becomes an enforced act where the voter has to give a thumbs up to one of only a handful of options. Think of it as taking away the option of being a votenik. Like a pacifist refusing to do violence for his or her country; something Obama and most obligatory-vote supporters likely have a soft spot for. Under obligatory voting laws, a votenik would refuse to endorse any of the current contenders in any given election. Perhaps voteniks could burn their voter registration cards and sing classics like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, before getting dragged off in squad cars and dumped outside their local polling station. Fortunately, the odds of such scenes being played out under the shadow of an obligatory voting law are next to nil. The freedom not to vote is an essential liberty in America and will likely stay that way.

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