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Is Voting a Privilege and Not a Right?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Roger Clegg, JD, President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, stated in his article "Felon Disenfranchisement Is Constitutional and Justified," from the website of the National Constitution Center (accessed May 7, 2007):

"Voting is a right, but it is also a privilege. Not everyone in the United States may vote. As a general matter, only those who have reached a certain age, are mentally competent, and are American citizens, are allowed to vote."

May 7, 2007 - Roger Clegg, JD 



PRO (yes)

Jeff Milchen, Founder and Executive Director of the Reclaim Democracy! website, stated in his Aug. 8, 2005 online article "Beyond the Voting Rights Act: Why We Need a Constitutional Right to Vote," that:

"In its 2000 ruling, Alexander v Mineta, the [U.S. Supreme] Court... affirmed the district court's interpretation that our Constitution 'does not protect the right of all citizens to vote, but rather the right of all qualified citizens to vote.' And it's state legislatures that wield the power to decide who is 'qualified.'

As a result, voting is not a right, but a privilege granted or withheld at the discretion of local and state governments... the U.S. is one of just 11 nations among 120 or so constitutional democracies that fail to guarantee a right to vote in their constitutions."

Aug. 8, 2005 - Jeff Milchen 



Ambra Nykol, freelance columnist, stated in her Oct. 5, 2004 article "Voting is a Privilege," posted to her website, that:

"[I]n this society, voting is a privilege. Voting has always been a privilege, and in my most humble opinion, it should forever remain as such...

I'm not sure when this 'it's my right' ideology crept in, but the United States has never treated voting as a 'personal right.'... even in the early days of America, when voting was a privilege only afforded to landowners, there was a direct correlation between responsibility and privilege."

Oct. 5, 2004 - Ambra Nykol 



CON (no)

The "National Voter Registration Act of 1993," passed by the U.S. Congress, stated:

"The Congress finds that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is a fundamental right."

1993 - National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (40KB)  



In Reynolds v. Sims, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in its 1964 majority opinion, penned by Chief Justice Earl Warren, that:

"And history has seen a continuing expansion of the scope of the right of suffrage in this country. The right to vote freely for the candidate of one's choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government."

1964 - Reynolds v. Sims (159KB)  



George W. Bush, MBA, U.S. President, stated in a July 20, 2006 speech before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):

"President Johnson called the right to vote the lifeblood of our democracy. That was true then and it remains true today."

July 20, 2006 - George W. Bush, MBA 



Lyndon B. Johnson, Former U.S. President, advocated the passage of the Voting Rights Act in a March, 1964 speech before Congress, stating that:

"It is wrongly -- deadly wrong -- to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote... it is really all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome."

Mar. 1964 - Lyndon B. Johnson