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Thursday, April 28, 2005The Right to VOTE
The issue that African Americans may lose their rights to vote has not been sitting well with me, so I'm constantly researching this issue to make sure I can get a better understanding. None of us can deny the fact that the 1965 voting rights act was enacted to protect African Americans right to vote. No body can deny if our rights to vote were covered under the 15th Amendment, then we would not have needed a 1965-voting act to protect our rights to vote. The question that has been lurking in my mind endlessly lately is why was it necessary to have this act, and why as African Americans our rights to vote were not protected under the 15th Amendment.
What I didn't know was this - when I made my first analysis, in the US, the right to vote I thought was a constitutional right for some and not others. However, this assertion is false, I don't care if you are white, blue, purple, black, or what, no US citizen has a right to vote under the constitution. Voting is a state right, this is why African Americans needed protection, and this is why the voting rights act of 1965 was created, to give us protection at the state level.
According to Jesse Jackson Jr., without the constitutional right to vote, Congress can pass voter legislation - but it leaves the "states' rights" system in place. Currently, Congress mostly uses financial and other incentives to entice the states to cooperate and comply with the law. He says that this is one reason why there have been so many problems with the recently passed Help America Vote Act and why many states still have not fully complied with the law.
According to Harvard's Constitutional Law Professor Alexander Keyssar 108 of the 119 nations in the world that elect their representatives to all levels of government in some democratic fashion explicitly guarantee their citizens the right to vote in their Constitution. Both Afghanistan's Constitution and Iraq's interim legal document contain a right to vote.
The million dollar question is this, why isn't there a provision in the US constitution to explicitly guarantee US citizens the right to vote? If anyone is concerned about not having a constitutional right to vote, they should ask their congressmen/women to support the Voting Rights Amendment act that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is supporting. His Website has a nice little summary about voting rights frequently asked questions. It helped me tremendously.
I tell you - this government never ceases to amaze me, just when you think that you are the only one being screwed, you find out that others are constantly being screwed too. Welcome to "The Land of the Screwed and The Home of the Played" citizens. Like James Brown said, living in America. We are living under an illusion and that illusion is called democracy.