The Daily

Election Day

29014rWhile the United States Constitution mentions the right to vote less than a half dozen times (and not at all in the original Bill of Rights), it does so with language the founders used that is peculiar to that right. They wrote that no laws could be passed that would prevent “or abridge” the right of citizens to vote. That suggests that they were especially skeptical of attempts to limit the right to vote.

Of course, the founders were thinking of white men at the time. Nobody else had the right to vote. Women’s suffrage came later (the 19th Amendment) and the Voting Rights Act wasn’t passed until the 1960’s – giving African-Americans the protections they needed to vote properly throughout America.

In 1957 at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Martin Luther King, Jr., had made a special plea to “give us the ballot” in exchange for the implicit promise that recognizing the right of all men to vote would ensure tranquility among “men of good will”.

Even though Brown v. Board of Education (decided a few years earlier) was a decision about segregation in the education system, the Warren Court’s unanimous opinion clearly applied the Equal Protection Clause in ways that would limit States’ rights to discriminate based upon race in other ways. King’s plea to finish the work started by Brown was a strong argument to honor our social compact. Nobody would be free without everyone being free. With that more perfected union would come the responsibility placed on all men and women of good will to do their part.

Blood’s been spilled for your right to vote. Exercise your right.