Save democracy: stop the attack on it and expand voting rights

Published on Political Affairs, by political action commission of the communist party USA, Feb 3, 2015.

  • Ordinary Americans have had to battle for the right to vote from the very beginning. When the Constitution was adopted there was no explicit guarantee of the right to vote for anyone, including US citizens. In fact there was not even a definition of US citizen in the Constitution.
  • The question of “becoming a citizen” was not addressed until the Naturalization Act of 1790, amended in 1795 to limit it to “free white persons” – making explicit that even freed slaves could not be citizens …;
  • Until the 14th Amendment voter eligibility was left to the states. This was a result of the efforts of the slave states to make sure that no section of the Constitution would allow slaves (and by extension all African-Americans) to vote. It was not until the passage of the 15th amendment in 1870 that voting rights were guaranteed to those formerly held in slavery. State determination of voter eligibility also denied the right to vote to Native-Americans until 1924.
  • In addition to their attempts to preserve white supremacy, the big landowners and the wealthy attempted to guarantee their power by making sure that poor (not rich) people were denied the vote. Because the dominant form of wealth was land, from the beginning there was an assumption that only those who owned property could vote.
  • There was also agreement that voting, and all power, was men’s business.

From the founding of this country:

-Slaves and all people of color could not vot
-Women could not vote.
-Native Americans could not vote.
-Working people who did not own land could not vote.

A major feature of the history of the United States from its founding to today has been the fight to expand access to power through the ballot box for the people … //


The fight for Democracy in our country depends on the ability of all citizens to vote both nationally and in the states. What is needed is an overall voter rights law such as the Voter Empowerment Act introduced by Congressman John Lewis and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand which would set national standards of fairness for federal elections. This bill includes many of the demands listed below. Most importantly it would set a national definition of what the right to vote means in real life.

A Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment has also been introduced by representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin; in the meantime all of the following elements should be fought for wherever possible:

- Every citizen must be guaranteed the right to vote by enforceable law.
- Registration procedures must facilitate this right, up to and including same day registration.
- Regulation of the voting process must not burden any American from exercising that right, including identification requirements, or criminal history.
- 17 year olds should be allowed to register if their 18th birthday occurs before the next election.
- Balloting by mail should be established wherever possible.
- Election materials should be printed in English and Spanish most places, and other languages where there is a sizable immigrant population.
- Provisional ballots must be issued and counted if a citizen has moved but failed to change their registration.
- Voter registration should be allowed at any Post Office and available at the polls on voting day.
- Early voting, including week-ends and during evening hours must be allowed at least one month prior to any election, including the Sunday before election day.
- It should be a federal crime to provide misinformation about when and where elections are held. A national paid voting holiday should be declared by Congress.
-Some form of weighted voting such as proportional representation or instant run-off procedures should replace winner take all elections.
- Restore the pre-clearance sections of the Voting Rights Act.
- Make it illegal for any state, or non governmental entity, to establish so-called “crosscheck lists.”
- Every American should be issued a Voting ID at birth when they receive their Social Security number. The Federal government should maintain this data base and presentation of this information should be sufficient to register to vote.
- Steps should be taken to enable people born before, or in places where good records do not exist, to secure a Voters ID.
- Any ID’s required to vote should be provided at no cost.

The Fight is engaged: … //

… (full long text).


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… und noch dies:

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