Removing Obstacles From the Right to Vote

By Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Published June 5th 2006 in New York Times
To the Editor: "Block the Vote" (editorial, May 30) concludes: "The right to vote is fundamental, and Congress and state legislatures should not pass laws that put an unnecessary burden on it. If they do, courts should strike them down." The Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore in 2000 that the right to vote is not a fundamental right: "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the president of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College." Because it's not a fundamental constitutional right, Congress doesn't have the authority to create a unitary national voting system. Since our system is built on the sand of states' rights, we have 50 different state, 3,141 different county and about 7,000 different local voting jurisdictions - all separate and unequal. When addressing these flaws, you recommend taking them to court one at a time. That's like emptying a swimming pool with a teaspoon. We need to add a voting rights amendment to the Constitution. That would give Congress the power to create a unitary federal voting system, and we wouldn't have to take such systemic problems to court one at a time. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. Member of Congress, 2nd Dist., Ill. Washington, May 30, 2006