To the Editor,
There is much debate about whether state voter ID laws are constitutional. Those who oppose laws requiring some sort of picture ID in order to vote claim such is both discriminatory and unconstitutional because it violates a person’s “right” to vote. So what does the Constitution have to say about voting?
First, although there are four places in the Constitution that speak of voting as a right, it must be understood that in context the “right” to vote is not truly a “right,” but rather a “privilege.” A true “right” is that which is “inalienable” and does not come from man or governments of men and therefore cannot be taken away (e.g., “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”). The “right” to vote has not always been extended to everyone and today can be taken away for example if one is a convicted felon.
Second, in the Constitution’s discussion of “privileges,” the 14th amendment states that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…” Notice that the privileges are those available to citizens.
Third, wherever the Constitution touches on the subject of voting, it is always in connection with those who are citizens:
• Amendment 15: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
• Amendment 19: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied…on account of sex.”
• Amendment 24: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote…shall not be denied…by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”
• Amendment 26: “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older to vote shall not be denied…on account of age.”
Two exceptions to the above may be argued, but to no avail:
• Article I, Section 2: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen…by the People of the several States…”
• Amendment 17: “The Senate…shall be composed of two Senators…elected by the people…When vacancies happen…until the people fill the vacancies by election…”
These two supposed exceptions are not exceptions at all, for the other quoted amendments clearly define who among the people shall have the privilege to vote, and, in each of those cases, those persons are citizens. Thus, I would argue that proving you are a citizen of the United States is neither discriminatory nor unconstitutional but rather is very much in line with the precepts of our Constitution. Those who would argue otherwise are simply seeking a way to extend privileges of citizenship to those not deserving of them. This is why we have voter ID in Texas as do several other states, and Tuesday’s election process indicated that it works.
GOP Congressional candidate