is it a Civic Duty ?
a Right ?
a Privilege ?
Regardless of your answer, Minnesota will hold a Primary Election on August 9th … and John Kline is on the television telling you to vote for … Washington’s Darlin’ Darlene Miller.
But Darlene Miller is not the only candidate on the ballot … she is joined by Matt Erickson, John Howe and Jason Lewis.
As John Howe will tell you, Jason Lewis lives in Minnesota’s Fourth District and cannot vote for himself — yep, according to the US Constitution, any resident of the state can represent any district they want … thus it doesn’t take a #MathGuy to see that Betty McCollum –averaging greater that 60% of the vote in the past three elections– would be a tough challenge for Jason Lewis … but an open seat in Minnesota’s Second District would be appealing prospect. All he has to do is encourage Second District voters to get out and vote.
Encouraging voters to embrace their “civic duty” can be difficult … thus voters will need to hear John Kline’s appeal … and for Darlene Miller to win, she might actually have to vote for herself … which doesn’t sound hard … except Darlene Miller has not always participated in primary elections — from 2000 through 2015, she only engaged in the process once. Heck, when John Kline won his first Congressional contest (in November 2002), Darlene Miller didn’t vote … and that was not the only November election that she failed to participate.
Voters may recall that this was also a complaint about Mike McFadden — his failure to participate in elections as cited in a Star-Tribune story
OK … civic duty aside, the real question is … is voting a “right” or a “privilege” ?
Well, you may think it is a “right” … something that would seem to have been enshrined in the US Constitution … African American men via the 15th Amendment in 1870 … women via the 19th Amendment in 1920 … District of Columbia residents via the 23rd Amendment in 1961 to vote in Presidential elections …and over 18 via the 26th Amendment in 1971.
Yeah … simple … it’s a “right” … but as we know not only did those Amendments only get enacted after years and hard struggles … and even so, some States seemed to set their own rules … making it more of a privilege — something granted to you only if you own property, could read, etc.
And States are actually increasing their exercising greater influence in who, when and how people vote for the past few years … taking what one presumed was a Constitutional right into something that only those who are “privileged” to do.
As Angie Craig, the Democrat-Farmer-Labor candidate for the Second District recently wrote :
Our constitutional right to vote is at the heart of what it means to be an American — but that right is being threatened by extreme, far-right Republicans.
Extreme and unprecedented voting restrictions are being proposed by Republicans all over the country and they unfairly target seniors, students, and minorities.
In fact, this election will be the first in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.
All voices deserve to be heard and stifling voting rights is inherently un-American!
Over the past few weeks, federal courts have addressed various state laws blocking voter restrictions and voter ID requirements in Wisconsin, Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, North Carolina and Virginia … all changes made since the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that certain provisions in the 1965 Voter Rights Act needed to be addressed.
The simple thing to do would be for Congress to address this … but like most things, the Republican-controlled Congress has failed … a Discharge Petition has garnered 181 signatures requiring a vote on H.R.2867 – Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 but that is short of the 218 needed.
Heck, even Republicans acknowledge the problem, as Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-05) wrote in a March 31, 2016 OpEd
Our credibility as elected officials depends on the fairness of our elections.
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of this most recent authorization.
If Congress doesn’t act soon, 2016 will be the first time since 1964 that the United States will elect a president without the full protections of the law. Modernizing the act to address the Supreme Court’s concerns should be one of Congress’s highest priorities.
Actually, Congressman Sensenbrenner — in case you missed it, he is a Republican — offered H.R. 3899 The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, on January 16, 2014 … but Republican leadership never allowed it to move out of committee.
Yep, it has been over two years that the Republicans have dilly-dallied providing cover for the States to stifle and erect barriers to presumed voting rights.
With Congress on another extended “recess”, there is virtually no chance of legislative action before Election Day … leading the responsibility to the next Congress.
My recommendation … don’t vote for somebody who doesn’t care to vote … but vote for someone that cares enough to want to go to Congress and do something ensuring your “rights”.