The Founding Wit Benjamin Franklin nailed our right-to-vote riddle early on, with a story. A man with a $50 jackass, he observed, was entitled to vote because he could meet the property requirement. By the time the jackass died, the man might have grown wise in public affairs. But the jackass was dead and the man could not vote. “Now gentlemen, pray inform me,” Franklin asked: “in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?” In Campaign 2000, whose right to vote was it? And did the presumed right to enter the booth and make your X encompass a right to have your vote counted?
Could you find that right in the US or your state Constitution, or in law? Where would you rank it among the rights that made our democracy–above or below, say, the right of free speech, against search or seizure, or the right to bear arms? And in a fight like Florida’s, where would you look for help to enforce it? The right to vote is this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Heather Gerken, Professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School