The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the idea of forcing every American to vote in elections. There are individuals and/or organizations who are pushing the idea of making the vote mandatory. This idea seems like something out of an authoritarian country – voting under the decree of a tyrant. This is America where we are free to live our lives as we choose if we do not infringe on the rights of other people.
I sought information about the so called “right to vote” in America, but I could not find it in the Constitution, and this site explains why. The Constitution does not explicitly state that Americans have the right to vote, but Amendments to the Constitution infer that the right cannot be taken away.
It is common for public opinions and judicial interpretations to conflict, but what does the U.S. Constitution actually say about the “right to vote”? The first time the phrase “right to vote” is used is in the 14th Amendment: “But when the right to vote at any election … is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.”
Framers of this amendment threatened the loss of congressional representation if that state were to deny the right to vote to any of its (male) U.S. citizens over the age of 21, unless he participated in a crime.
Since the addition of the 14th Amendment, the U.S. Constitution has been amended four more times to prohibit states from denying the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude (15th Amendment), sex (19th Amendment), failure to pay poll tax (24th Amendment), and age, 18 years and older (26th Amendment).
No constitutional provision asserts that there is a right to vote; only that states cannot deny the right to vote based on the above-mentioned criteria. As Vanessa A. Bee and Oren Nimni, contributors to Current Affairs, so eloquently write, “It’s not so much that we’re entitled to vote, the Constitution tells us: Rather, we are guaranteed freedom from some voting interference on the basis of some reasons.”
I found the above information to be interesting. I always believed that Americans had the “right to vote,” and that this right was stated somewhere in the Constitution. Several Amendments to the Constitution protect the right to vote. Therefore, the right to vote is one of the unnamed rights under constitutional protection.
This brings us back to the topic that I want to discuss – mandatory voting. Although I believe that every eligible voter should vote, I do not support mandatory voting. Americans should vote to lend their voice to making government policy – made by the representatives who we elect. Anyone who chooses not to vote should not complain or fight against the results of elections.
I am against compelling Americans to vote for several reasons, the most important one being freedom to make choices. After the freedom issue, my main reason against mandatory voting is that we already have too many people voting who do not take the time to study out the issues. If they come from a Democrat family, they vote for anyone who has a D in front of their name, and they vote for anyone with an R if they come from a Republican family. I have heard of more people voting for the D than for the R, but I suspect there are some of each. We do not want or need more uninformed voters. If people do not care enough about their city, state, or federal government to vote on their own, they should not vote.
We want every person to vote who has an interest in the way that their governments work and the people who represent them. We want voters who know the Constitution, the laws, and the policies. We want voters who understand how the government is supposed to work. We want voters who will listen to both sides of the political discussion and vote for the policies that they think are best for America. We want voters who will look past their own selfish interests – whether business or personal – and vote for representatives who will protect the Constitution and preserve our American way of life.
Although I do not support mandatory voting, I do support mandatory classes in middle school, high school, and college that teach the Constitution, what it says and what it means. I want classes that teach about the government, why it was set up the way it was, and how it is supposed to work. In other words, I want voters who love America because they know what America stands for and why it is great.