Sunday, January 31, 2010
Qualified to Vote
Provision 11 in the United States Constitution is found in Article I.2.1: "Any citizen of a state who is qualified to vote for a representative in the state legislature shall be considered qualified to vote for a Representative in the United States Congress." This provision says that, if a person is qualified to vote in state elections for representatives to state legislatures, the same person has a Right to vote for his representatives in Congress. "This was a major concession to the states to allow them to decide who could vote in a federal election. What if a state allowed women to vote? What if a state allowed eighteen-year-olds to vote? Or slaves? This was a risk the members of the Convention were willing to take. Each state would decide who could vote. Eventually four amendments to the Constitution settled all three of these questions. 1) The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. 2) The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited the states from denying any citizen the right to vote because of `race, color, or previous condition of servitude.' 3) The Nineteenth Amendment prohibited the states from denying a person the right to vote because of sex. 4) The Twenty-sixth Amendment reduced the voting age of citizens to 18" (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution. 267). The Founders did not want the right to vote for Congressmen to be limited to the rich, learned, famous or owners of land. They wanted the electors to be the people of the United States. They were concerned that any other arrangement would create divisions among the people, and particularly, make enemies of those excluded. A parent could make some arbitrary rules for their family council, such as girls cannot vote, any male under age ten (or whatever age) cannot vote, etc. After those who are excluded realize what happened to them, discuss how they feel about the situation and what would be more fair and equal.