In the 1870s, the woman’s suffrage movement claimed the right to vote by citing the new 14th Amendment’s promise that no state “shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Their opponents didn’t see it that way. “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote than it carries the power to fly to the moon,” The Rochester Union and Advertiser scoffed in an 1872 editorial. But suffragists insisted. The right to vote, they argued, cannot be carved away from citizenship. “Is the right to vote one of the privileges or immunities of citizens?” Susan B. Anthony asked in an 1873 speech. Her answer: “It is not only one of them, but the one without which all the others are nothing.”
Anthony’s call remains unfulfilled today, as suppressive voting rules in nearly every state deny many Americans their voting rights. Six million otherwise eligible individuals are stripped of the right to vote because of a felony conviction, removing them from a key arena of public life.
But Anthony’s words are a reminder that the right to vote is a bedrock of our ability to govern ourselves democratically. While citizenship need not be a necessary condition for enfranchisement — for example, San Francisco has enabled noncitizens to vote in school board elections — it should be a sufficient one.
Full Article: The Case for Allowing Felons to Vote – The New York Times.