The right to vote is not in the Constitution

Why The Right To Vote Is Not Enshrined In The Constitution by Sean ...

If you’re looking for the right to vote, you won’t find it in the United States Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights recognizes the core rights of citizens in a democracy, including freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. It then recognizes several insurance policies against an abusive government that would attempt to limit these liberties: weapons; the privacy of houses and personal informationprotections against false criminal prosecution or repressive civil trials; and limits on excessive punishments by the government.

But the framers of the Constitution never mentioned a right to vote. They didn’t forget – they intentionally left it out. To put it most simply, the founders didn’t trust ordinary citizens to endorse the rights of others.

They were creating a radical experiment in self-government paired with the protection of individual rights that are often resented by the majority. As a result, they did not lay out an inherent right to vote because they feared rule by the masses would mean the destruction of – not better protection for – all the other rights the Constitution and Bill of Rights uphold. Instead, they highlighted other core rights over the vote, creating a tension that remains today.

James Madison of Virginia. White House Historical Association/Wikimedia Commons

Relying on the elite to protect minority rights

Many of the rights the founders enumerated protect small groups from the power of the majority – for instance, those who would say or publish unpopular statements, or practice unpopular religions, or hold more property than others. James Madison, a principal architect of the U.S. Constitution and the drafter of the Bill of Rights, was an intellectual and landowner who saw the two as strongly linked.

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Madison expressed the prevailing view that “the freeholders of the country would be the safest depositories of republican liberty,” meaning only people who owned land debt-free, without mortgages, would be able to vote. The Constitution left voting rules to individual states, which had long-standing laws limiting the vote to those freeholders.

In the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, Madison trumpeted a benefit of the new system: the “total exclusion of the people in their collective capacity.” Even as the nation shifted toward broader inclusion in politics, Madison maintained his view that rights were fragile and ordinary people untrustworthy. In his 70s, he opposed the expansion of the franchise to nonlanded citizens when it was considered at Virginia’s Constitutional Convention in 1829, emphasizing that “the great danger is that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the Minority.”

The founders believed that freedoms and rights would require the protection of an educated elite group of citizens, against an intolerant majority. They understood that protected rights and mass voting could be contradictory.

Scholarship in political science backs up many of the founders’ assessments. One of the field’s clear findings is that elites support the protection of minority rights far more than ordinary citizens do. Research has also shown that ordinary Americans are remarkably ignorant of public policies and politicians, lacking even basic political knowledge.

Is there a right to vote?

What Americans think of as the right to vote doesn’t reside in the Constitution, but results from broad shifts in American public beliefs during the early 1800s. The new states that entered the union after the original 13 – beginning with Vermont, Kentucky and Tennessee – did not limit voting to property owners. Many of the new state constitutions also explicitly recognized voting rights.

As the nation grew, the idea of universal white male suffrage – championed by the commoner-President Andrew Jackson – became an article of popular faith, if not a constitutional right.

After the Civil War, the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, guaranteed that the right to vote would not be denied on account of race: If some white people could vote, so could similarly qualified nonwhite people. But that still didn’t recognize a right to vote – only the right of equal treatment. Similarly, the 19th Amendment, now 100 years old, banned voting discrimination on the basis of sex, but did not recognize an inherent right to vote.

A painting of Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl/Wikimedia Commons

Debates about voting rights

Today, the country remains engaged in a long-running debate about what counts as voter suppression versus what are legitimate limits or regulations on voting – like requiring voters to provide identification, barring felons from voting or removing infrequent voters from the rolls.

These disputes often invoke an incorrect assumption – that voting is a constitutional right protected from the nation’s birth. The national debate over representation and rights is the product of a long-run movement toward mass voting paired with the longstanding fear of its results.

The nation has evolved from being led by an elitist set of beliefs toward a much more universal and inclusive set of assumptions. But the founders’ fears are still coming true: Levels of support for the rights of opposing parties or people of other religions are strikingly weak in the U.S. as well as around the world.

Many Americans support their own rights to free speech but want to suppress the speech of those with whom they disagree.

Americans may have come to believe in a universal vote, but that value does not come from the Constitution, which saw a different path to the protection of rights.





How to make sure your vote counts in November

Research on voting by mail says it's safe – from fraud and disease ...


The time is now! Voting in the presidential election will begin in many states in just a few weeks – as early as Sept. 4 in North Carolina. Every state’s regulations and procedures are different, so it is vital that you understand the requirements and opportunities to vote where you live.

Here’s how to make sure you’re ready to vote, and that your vote will count.


Steven Cotterill on Twitter: "108,000,000 eligible voters chose to ...

Check your registration

Make sure that you are registered to vote at your current address. You may not have voted in a while. You may have moved or changed your name. You may have forgotten when you last registered to vote. Calling or visiting your secretary of state’s office or local Board of Elections may be a good place to start.

You can also visit Vote.orgRock the VoteI am a voter or the U.S. Vote Foundation, all nonprofit, nonpartisan websites providing lots of detailed information about voting rights, registration and the process of voting. It took only a few minutes online for me to verify my own registration and voter ID number.

The federal government offers lots of useful voting information, too.

Not registered? Register now!

If you’re not registered – whether you have never registered or your registration is out of date – there is still time. September 22 is National Voter Registration Day, when millions of individuals register to vote.

Each state has its own process and deadlines, and you may be able to register online through, which can take less than two minutes.

If you’d rather register to vote on paper, download and print a simple form from the federal government, which asks you to provide some personal information, like your name and address. The instructions give state-specific details and provide the mailing address you need to send the form to.

While you’re at it, encourage your friends to register too.

Make a plan to vote

Not everyone who is registered to vote actually casts a ballot. You’re more likely to actually vote if you make a plan.

You’ll need to find out when to vote in person and where to do it. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 – but different cities and towns have different voting hours. Many communities have several polling places, and you need to go to the right one, depending on where you live. Make sure you know where to go.

In some places you can vote in person for some number of days ahead of Election Day, often at the main municipal government building. Your town office – and its website – will likely have the dates and location information prominently displayed.

If you don’t want to vote in person, either because of your work or personal schedule, or because of the pandemic, think about voting by mail. Some states will mail you a ballot automatically, either because they conduct their elections by mail or because they have made special provisions to do so as a result of the pandemic. In other states you have to request one – and sometimes you need to provide a specific excuse for wanting to avoid in-person voting.

If you’re voting by mail, you may need to pay postage to send your ballot back in. Call your local election office and ask how much you’ll need – and get the right postage. You can order postage online for free delivery – and splitting the cost of a book of stamps is another great opportunity to share voting with a friend.

In 2016, nearly one-quarter of U.S. votes were cast by mail. Research and evidence show that it is safe and reliable – though with large numbers of people expected to vote by mail this year, it’s best to mail your ballot back as early as possible to make sure it has plenty of time to arrive before it needs to be counted. The U.S. Postal Service recommends mailing your ballot at least a week before the deadline.

Large amounts of mail also might mean you don’t get your ballot in the mail until just before the election. If it arrives with less than a week to go, call your local Board of Elections or municipal clerk immediately to find out what your options are. You may be able to drop off the ballot rather than mailing it in, and you should also still have the option to vote in person, either on or before Election Day.

If you’re worried about the safety of voting by mail, there are plenty of administrative and legal protections for mailed-in ballots, and steep penalties for those who tamper with election mail.

Set reminders to vote

Many people set reminders for all sorts of important things: medical appointments, friends’ birthdays, bill payment dates and so on. Add voting to your calendar – including alerts to request a mail-in ballot, to vote early, to mail your ballot and certainly for Election Day itself.

Tell your friends and family

Every vote that is cast is a vital contribution to the nation’s future. Encourage everyone you know to vote. You can even invite people to your calendar events – or share your plans on social media, in an email to family and friends. Send texts to people you know. Pledge to call 10 people and ask them to vote, and ask each of them to call 10 more people.

Do not be intimidated or afraid

If you make your plan and follow the requirements of your state and local government, you can cast your ballot and be certain that your vote will count.

You may encounter people claiming there could be “widespread” voter fraud or that the election is somehow “rigged.” But the biggest problem is that so few people actually vote: In 2016, 40% of eligible American voters didn’t cast a ballot.

It is your right to vote. Exercise that right proudly and make your voice heard.

How to be a smart voter for the 2020 Election – the JTAC

US Postal Service is Critical to American Healthcare.

The Role of The USPS In Health Delivery

When I worked in the emergency department, almost all patients had to get some sort of test—a blood test or an xray. And lots of times those test results took a few days to determine the results. Like, if a patient had an infection that required a specific type of antibiotic, that took a few days to figure out.  Of course, by then, most of emergency department patients had been discharged ‘to home.’

Even though the patient had been discharged, the medical staff still needed to reach the patient to let them know about the need to come back for treatment. Of course, the staff would try to reach the patient by phone, but often patients did not have phones, or, the call went to voice mail—and personal medical information cannot be left on voice mail…Nor can it be texted.

So, how did the medical staff communicate important medical findings to patients? Especially to those patients that needed to come back to the hospital for medical treatment? Why, through the US Postal Service—by sending the patient an actual, physical letter. Not email, not a phone call, not text, not twitter or Facebook—only through the US mail, can medical institutions prove that they’ve tried to reach the patient. This is the necessary ‘physical paper trail’ that hospitals and doctors offices need to protect themselves should the patient never come back for medical treatment.


USPS Is A Branch of HealthCare

Actually, lots of healthcare happens via the mail. Lots. Without this ‘pony express highway’ running efficiently, patient safety and patient wellness is compromised. Consider this:

·        At least 1 million prescriptions are sent through the USPS every single week.

·        80% of medications are sent to veterans by mail. These are important medications that control blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, depression and many other critical medical conditions.

·        Medical notices for lab and x-ray results, and upcoming appointments are sent via mail.


USPS Is an Economic Engine for the USA

Additionally the USPS is a critical ‘super highway’ for getting

·        Upwards of 72 million social security checks are mailed every single month.

·        472 million letters, checks, legal notices, love letters (remember those?) are delivered each and every day, regardless of snow, sleet or snow (as the saying goes) gets delivered to every American household.

·        And still, today, some mail is delivered by mules (think bottom of the Grand Canyon).

·        And, the USPS is as American as it gets—every single Founding Father supported the creation of the postal system. It’s even in the Articles of Confederation

Also, loads of Americans work for the USPS—roughly 600,000 Americans! One of those Americans included my father, who got a job as a letter carrier (or, back in those days, ‘a mailman’), to help him afford college.


The USPS Is Santa’s Helper

And let’s not forget that the Postal Service also sends letters to Santa Claus—several hundred thousand letters (True statement). If the postal service is cut, compromised or decommissioned, who will deliver all those letters? And more importantly, who will respond? Because—and this is true—the postal service employees will respond to the letters with a hand written response signed by Santa and—this is also true—some employees will purchase gifts for the children!


The Cost of Knee-Capping the USPS

So, this discussion about dismantling or knee-capping the postal service is not only a very serious healthcare concern, it is also a workforce and American identity crisis—for what is America without our 6-days-a-week US mail service? 

If this non-partisan, non-profit organization goes away or is severely limited who or what will, in the absence of this Great American Institution, replace it? Goodness help us all if it becomes privatized.  We know what happens when institutions ‘get privatized…’ Private for-profit companies will close post offices to save money, which means households in rural areas might not get home delivery but only regional delivery. Services will probably be cutback from 6 days a week to 4 days a week. For all that ‘great service’ of fewer days and no home delivery, these private companies will charge you more to mail a letter so that the executives can raise their stock share price.


The Best Value Money Can Buy

What organization that you know of can deliver 212 billion pieces of mail each year, to anywhere in the USA for 55 cents? Anywhere, any letter, 6 days a week for 55 cents… (Honestly, what can you possibly buy for 55 cents that produces that much value?)


USPS is More American Than Baseball

No question about this—the USPS is not only ‘like’ Mom, Apple Pie and Baseball, it is Mom and Apple Pie and Baseball of our Great United States. Stand united for the USPS because in doing so, We The People, are standing up for ourselves.





Can we ‘TRUST’ the ‘CARES ACT’ to ‘HEAL’ our nation?

Social Security Error Leads to Unpaid Medicare Coverage

A groan-up look at Congress’s aspirational acronyms for its various stimulus bills.

Two of the things missing from the increasingly bitter debate about how to handle covid-19’s effect on our people, our businesses and our economy are a sense of humor and bipartisanship.

So as a public service, let me try to bring both of those to bear by doing a deep dive into the various pieces of stimulus legislation currently running around in Our Nation’s Capital.

No, I’m not going to give you a detailed, sleep-inducing analysis featuring numbers and experts opining about various provisions. Instead, I’m going to look at the names — which I find hilariously tortured — of the various pieces of legislation.

Possibly because I’m both a recovering English major and a non-Washingtonian, I like to know the full names of the legislation — like the Cares Act — that I’m writing about. And these names are just great. Let’s start with the Cares (or as I prefer to call it, CARES) Act.

Do you know what the full name of that legislation is? Probably not. Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. A name clearly invented to produce a seemingly empathetic acronym.

Now, let’s move on to two total groaners — the Democrats’ and Republicans’ proposals for more stimulus legislation. Remember, I’m not talking about the proposals’ provisions — I’m talking about their names. The Democrats’ candidate in the current stimulus battle is the Heroes (or rather HEROES) Act. The full name of this piece of work, which has been passed by the House, is the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. My favorite part is “Omnibus,” which clearly is in the title because an acronym meister needed an O, and Omnibus was better than Outsized or Over-the-top.

Showing that they would not be out-acronymed, the Republicans named their legislation, which is currently kicking around (and being kicked around) in the Senate, the Heals (or HEALS) Act. That stands for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection and Schools Act. The lowercase p in “protection” let the acronym mavens call the legislation HEALS rather than HEALPS.

And finally, there’s legislation that’s been around for several years but that I discovered only recently when Mitch McConnell and his crew stuck it into the HEALS Act. It’s a proposal that would let a congressional committee, operating outside of public sight, propose cuts and changes to Social Security, Medicare and some other federal programs that use trust funds. It’s called the Time to Rescue United States Trusts (or TRUST) Act. I’ve looked at it only superficially — but from what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s any reason to trust it.

I hope you’ve noticed that I’m doing equal-opportunity name mocking: the Cares and Trust acts, which are bipartisan; the Heroes Act, which is Democratic; and the Heals (or HEALPS) Act, which is Republican.

What do I propose to do about these contorted names? I’m glad you asked. My answer, naturally, is to propose a piece of legislation of my own: The Get Rid Of Acronyms Now Act. That, my friends, would be a true GROAN-er.