April 15, 2014

The real concern regarding the right to vote

A panel on the execrable Al Sharpton's "Politics Nation" argued the usual swill about the GOP the other day, but this nugget upped the ante to the Nth degree: They (Republicans) want to make voting illegal.

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: I think it actually goes back to that old cynical bumper sticker that a lot of people have seen which says, it says something like, "If voting could change anything, they'd make it illegal." Well, voting can change things, and so they actually are trying to make it illegal.

You can give that insanity all the credence it deserves (aka zero), but more interesting regarding the voting issue is what I heard on the Dick Morris Show on Philly's WPHT 1210 yesterday while driving home. There's a movement out there which has garnered next to no mainstream media attention called the National Popular Vote. It's not what you may think at first glance; it's not a movement to abolish the Electoral College and elect the prez on a purely popular vote. What it is is a push to get states to agree to allocate all their electoral votes to the national winner of the popular vote -- not to the popular vote winner of an individual state. The mainstream media, natch, is more concerned about electoral college touch-ups such as this, where electoral votes would be cast on a proportional basis related to congressional districts. This, as the NY Times frets, has the potential to harm Democrats. Or so they argue.

But although the National Popular Vote website includes positive testimonials from Democrats and Republicans alike, what Morris pointed out on his radio show indicates a BIG worry for the GOP if NPV gets passed -- and NPV is very close to doing just that. Keep in mind, first, that no Constitutional Amendment would be necessary for the NPV to take effect as it does not constitutionally alter the nature of the Electoral College. But just as no amendment is necessary for the NPV, there is also no specific constitutional requirement that one be a citizen in order to vote. The 14th, 26th and 19th Amendments clearly mention citizenship and voting; however, there is actually no absolute constitutional requirement that one be a citizen in order to cast a vote. And, in fact, there is NO explicit right to vote for anybody enshrined in the US's founding document. Inherent right? Yes. Explicit? No.

And this is what Morris pounces on.

The Center for Immigration Studies offers up plenty of evidence on how individual states could allow non-citizens to vote. Most of the states that are "pro" non-citizen voting are blue states (surprise), and some of these states already allow non-citizen voting at the local level. Morris argues that if the National Popular Vote measure takes effect, blue states will be much more inclined to vote (via their respective state legislatures) to allow non-citizens to cast ballots beyond localities, i.e. for president. The reason for this is simple: Again, since the NPV would give all of a state's electoral votes to the national winner of the popular vote (not an individual state's), and that non-citizens are much more likely to vote Democratic, it's all a pure numbers game. The GOP would never again see the White House, Morris argues.

While some scholars note that Section 2 of the 14th Amendment "clearly" grants states the right to impose a citizenship qualification (chee-yeah, tell that to Eric Holder), again, the numbers for the GOP just wouldn't cut it. Red state legislatures could impose such a requirement to vote, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome blue states that "opened up" voting to virtually every resident within their borders.

Naturally, one may wonder if blue states, even those dominated by Democrats in the governorship and state legislature (like my own Delaware), could get away with passing such voting allowances. They may be successful initially, but it's a good bet many independents and other moderates would subsequently object. The ensuing statewide races would have Democrats having to defend why they voted to allow non-citizens to vote. I think that would be quite a tough sell to anyone but a committed "progressive." In addition, even some advocates of non-citizen voting believe liberal states would be hesitant to allow what Morris fears:

To my knowledge no state has seriously considered extending the franchise to aliens during the past half century, and I very much doubt that any state would now make the move except at the insistence of the Supreme Court, says legal scholar Gerald Rosberg.

I tend to agree. However, this doesn't mean "progressives" won't be up to their usual electoral tricks while denigrating common sense measures like voter ID (supported by approximately three-quarters of the American public) as "voter suppression."

Posted by Hube at April 15, 2014 04:53 PM | TrackBack

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