The Right to vote?

“Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly say voting is a fundamental right that should not be restricted in any way – 78% hold this view, while fewer than a quarter (21%) say it is a privilege. Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners say voting is a privilege that can be limited if requirements are not met, compared with about half as many (32%) who say it is a fundamental right.”

So what say you? Is voting a fundamental right or a privilege that can be limited? It would be interesting to delve deeper into the two-thirds of republicans that think voting is a privilege to see what limits they believe can be set.

Since there are a number of constitutional amendments that have extended suffrage further and further, I’m going to say it is a privilege that can be limited. But I don’t agree that having to provide proof of who you are restricts that privilege.

I read something recently about how it was always looked at as a privilege. Initially you had to be a male land owner to vote. How is that not a privilege?

Outside of constitutional amendments can voting be limited?

The entire argument is somewhat just a matter of semantics as being a US citizen could be considered a privilege. For clarity I see the constitution and amendments as defining rights.

Just because people cannot vote in fact does not mean it is not a right in principle. I don’t think there is any right that cannot be taken away in fact.


I call it from the other side of the coin.

It’s an obligation. Whatever the hurdles. Get your ID, register in time, do whatever it takes.

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This. A constitutional right cannot be limited. A privilege can be limited and someone gets to decide what the limits are and where they are applied. Who those someones are that get to decide the limits reveals the problem

Exactly! All you adults are the problem!

i think u should pass an exam before being able to vote. This would be a pretty basic exam about how govt works.

Sort of like a driver’s license, u would need a voting license. How u drive affects others, as does how u vote.

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Maybe a poll tax too…

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Fundamentally false. See "yell fire in a crowded theatre "

Courts generally decide how much they can be limited. That seems to be the most interesting thing they do.


Like the right to keep and bear arms?

I think the question, as posed, is a bit too ambiguous. For example, does a French citizen have a right to vote in American elections? What about Russian operatives?

I do take the view that voting is a right . . . but not a right that should be conferred on anyone who just happens to be physically present in the US . . . or have a (valid) address in the US.

Certainly US citizens have the right (and I agree with Gnome, that they also have an obligation) to vote. Permanent residents (aka green card holders) should have the right as well.

Long term non-citizen residents (who have not acquired a green card) is where things get muddy/grey, IMO.

“Fresh immigrants” shouldn’t have the right to vote, IMO.

Excellent point

Or, the one-fifth of democrats who say the same thing.
What “responsibilities” count?

The only one I can think of is “obey the law”. Maybe they are thinking that people currently in prison shouldn’t vote, or ex-prisoners?

My thinking has definitely shifted recently. Pre-trump I used to be much more of a voting right’s absolutist, but lately I’ve been having my doubts. The mob is a very powerful tool that isn’t always wielded by the best rulers.

I haven’t fully thought through the logistics, but my current position is more along the lines of that everyone should have easy access to voting (automatic registration, national voting holiday) but in order for your vote to count, you need to answer correctly questions about the specific policy positions of your chosen candidate. Having more people involved in voting is a good thing in a general sense. Having more uninformed people voting for the populist of the day is not. This should apply up and down the ballot.

We’ve been going downhill since Gaius Marius

You realize that this is a very slippery slope to pursue . . . How will “being informed” be determined?

And I’m not sure “knowing policy positions” of candidates is going to be a “good test”.


No joke, what started my line of thinking was listening to Dan Carlin’s Podcast about the fall of the Roman Republic recorded about 10 years ago (I was listening to it is 2019 I think). The parallels are very interesting.

Sure it’s a slippery slope, but that’s what I chose what I consider to be the absolute minimum. Knowing what your chosen candidate believes and intends to do on a few major issues does not seem like an onerous burden for a voter to overcome for their vote to count.

I sympathize with the line of thinking, in fact the removal of land requirements was arguably a big cause of the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the autocracy. I think considerations to these views and the worries of the mob are the basis for many of the original elements of the Constitution, some of which have been amended away (not directly electing senators, electoral college, Legislative Branch being the most important rather than merely a co-equal with an executive).

It’s also interesting to note that the Roman Empire rose higher than the Roman Republic by a long shot (with some benefit of extra time). Many in Europe were in favor of an enlightened despot in the 17-19th centuries. There are many examples of this being very successful but I think the risks outweigh the benefits.

I think the way you fight against populism is by making the government less centered on an executive. Populists really rely on being the center of attention, if the government is the combined will of lots of small pieces then I think it’d be harder to be successful as a populist.

Also government institutions that are designed to be one step removed (e.g. the Fed, SCOTUS) are incredibly important and its imperative their apolitical nature be protected.

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I also like to point out that while Caesar is famous for crossing the Rubicon he was neither the first nor the final step on the way to the Roman Empire. He was one step in a chain of precedence arguably starting with Sulla and ending with Octavian, aka Augustus.

Obligatory shoutout to author and podcaster Mike Duncan