Friday, June 08, 2007
A Short Musing on the US Constitution
The Constitution does not set forth requirements for the right to vote. As a result, at the outset of the Union, only male property-owners could vote. African Americans were not considered citizens, and women were excluded from the electoral process. Native Americans were not given the right to vote until 1924.One figure I've heard estimates only 5% of the population of the period was eligible to vote.
However, something I find more interesting is that there is no "right to vote" built into the US Constitution. Apparently I was asleep when they taught this in school. Or maybe I just didn't draw the right conclusions about the Women's Suffrage and the African-American Civil Rights movements and Constitutional Amendments.
Connected to this are the laws in various states disenfranchising felons, barring them from voting. No other industrial country has a such laws. All of this seems designed to confine voting to those people who benefit from the established power structure.
I guess this is less a musing about the Constitution than a few bits I find interesting.