David Frum

01.31.13

A Few Questions About the Right to Vote

Very much enjoyed Jamelle Bouie's call for a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. It may well be necessary, and I'm not one to instantly bag on putting rights into writing.

I do have a few questions that I'll pose here. Such an amendment would likely result in a substantial expansion of the Justice Department. I'd guess it would look something like the Voting Rights Act, with the feds identifying problematic states and counties and paying them special attention. So...

What limiting principles would there be for such oversight? Is having to wait in line a violation of the right to vote? Are voter-ID laws in violation of such an amendment? Are states with shorter intervals for voter registration in violation? Are felons exempted from this right? If so, is there anything that might strip said right? Bouie brings up several of these as reasons for such a right, but I'm uncertain to what extent he feels we should empower federal authorities to act.

I'll wait for a response from Bouie. It's an intriguing idea, but there is much more to discuss.