An American orbiting in outer space can vote, but four million citizens and nationals living on U.S. soil have been left behind. While NASA astronaut Kate Rubins cast her ballot last month from the International Space Station, around 350 kilometres above planet Earth, those living in the five American island territories in Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico will not be able to vote to elect their next president. Territorial residents have some of the highest military enlistment rates, yet many have no say when it comes to deciding their next commander-in-chief.
US Virgin Islands: Territorial Litigants Respond To Federal Opposition To Voting Rights Challenge | Virgin Islands Consortium
As Democratic presidential primaries approach in Guam (May 7), U.S. Virgin Islands (June 4), and Puerto Rico (June 5), and as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions draw near, voting rights advocates in U.S. territories are taking action both inside and outside the courtroom to bring an end to the disenfranchisement of the more than 4 million Americans living in U.S. territories. Yesterday, plaintiffs from Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands filed a response in the Northern District of Illinois to the federal government’s opposition to a voting rights lawsuit seeking expanded voting rights in U.S. territories. At the same time, We the People Project – a nonprofit advocacy organization that fights for voting rights in U.S. territories and the District of Columbia – is releasing a proposal for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would provide full enjoyment of the right to vote for U.S. citizens who call these areas home.
We applaud U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for adding her voice of support to voting rights for Americans living in Guam and other U.S. territories. She said citizens in the territories are treated like “second-class citizens” because they can’t vote in presidential elections, aren’t represented in the Senate and only have a nonvoting delegate in Congress. “I just have to say this is absurd,” Warren said at a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. “Four million Americans live on American soil and can only participate in our democracy, but only if they leave home. At their homes — on U.S. soil — all of their representation rights disappear.”
National: Senator Warren Stands Up For Disenfranchised Voters in U.S. Territories After Snub | Huffington Post
On Monday, actor Tim Robbins of Shawshank Redemption fame made an ill-considered political dig against Hillary Clinton by making a punchline of disenfranchised voters in Guam, declaring at a Bernie Sanders rally that “winning South Carolina in a Democratic primary is about as significant as winning Guam.” Less than 24 hours later, Senator Elizabeth Warren took a stand for Americans who call Guam and other U.S. territories home, arguing at a Senate hearing that “the four million people who live in the territories are not the subjects of a King. They are Americans. They live in America. But their interests will never be fully represented within our government until they have full voting rights just like every other American.” As Senator Warren explained, Americans living in U.S. territories “are subject to federal law. More than 150,000 people from these islands have served our country in the Armed Forces – and many have died in that service.”