An Official Right to Vote

By Adam Fogel
Published August 13th 2009 in The New York Times
To the Editor:

“A Loss for Voting Rights” (editorial, Aug. 5), concerning the disenfranchisement by some states of people with felony convictions, highlights the need for an affirmative right to vote in our Constitution.

The current patchwork system of eligibility requirements and widespread lack of uniformity in election administration cannot help but lead to fundamental inequalities in our democracy. All Americans, regardless of who they are or where they are from, should have the right to vote and have their voice heard in the political process.

Rather than relying on the 14th Amendment, which only indirectly protects voting rights, enshrining these rights affirmatively and unambiguously in the Constitution would allow Congress to set national standards for all elections, grant full representation to the citizens of the District of Columbia and enfranchise the millions of Americans whose civil rights have been unjustly taken away.

Adam Fogel
Right to Vote Director, FairVote
Takoma Park, Md., Aug. 6, 2009a

IRV Soars in Twin Cities, FairVote Corrects the Pundits on Meaning of Election Night '09
Election Day '09 was a roller-coaster for election reformers.  Instant runoff voting had a great night in Minnesota, where St. Paul voters chose to implement IRV for its city elections, and Minneapolis voters used IRV for the first time—with local media touting it as a big success. As the Star-Tribune noted in endorsing IRV for St. Paul, Tuesday’s elections give the Twin Cities a chance to show the whole state of Minnesota the benefits of adopting IRV. There were disappointments in Lowell and Pierce County too, but high-profile multi-candidate races in New Jersey and New York keep policymakers focused on ways to reform elections;  the Baltimore Sun and Miami Herald were among many newspapers publishing commentary from FairVote board member and former presidential candidate John Anderson on how IRV can mitigate the problems of plurality elections.

And as pundits try to make hay out of the national implications of Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections, Rob Richie in the Huffington Post concludes that the gubernatorial elections have little bearing on federal elections.