The U.S. Bill of Rights guarantees fundamental rights to U.S. citizens. Curiously, one missing from that list is the defining act of a democratic republic, the right to vote. Over the years, Congress and State Legislatures ratified a number of amendments which expanded voting to various groups: non-whites, in the fifteenth amendment, women in the nineteenth amendment, Residents of the District of Columbia in the twenty-third, and people between the ages of 18 and 21 in the twenty sixth. All of those amendments, however, use similar language and construction: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, prior condition of servitude, sex, or age.” Presumably, then, under this constitutional language, you’re free to deny or abridge someone’s right to vote, as long as you don’t do it on account of those things on the list. Where’s the clause that says you can’t deny or abridge a citizen’s right to vote — for any reason at all? This is not just an academic question, as recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions have pointed out that the right to vote is not formally enshrined in the constitution, and so does not enjoy the same protections as the right to free speech, for example. Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison want to change that. They’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to the House of Representatives that would guarantee a fundamental right to vote.
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