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OPINION

Amendment needed to protect voting rights for all citizens | John Hood

John Hood
Guest Columnist
John Hood

RALEIGH 中出少妇视频 North Carolina voters will be asked this fall to remove a troubling ambiguity in the state constitution. An overwhelming, bipartisan majority of state legislators 中出少妇视频 40 of 50 senators, 104 of 120 representatives 中出少妇视频 voted to place the amendment on the ballot.

Nevertheless, say some left-leaning critics, the measure is at best an unnecessary distraction 中出少妇视频 and at worst a conspiracy to get conservative North Carolinians to the polls.

It is neither. Voters should, and almost certainly will, ignore these objections and approve the amendment, which clarifies that 中出少妇视频渙nly a citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age and otherwise possessing the qualifications for voting shall be entitled to vote at any election in this State.中出少妇视频

Resident aliens are not currently allowed to vote in North Carolina, that中出少妇视频檚 true. And minors can vote in primaries only if they turn 18 by the date of general election. But other jurisdictions allow noncitizens or minors to vote in local elections. And many activists explicitly advocate extending the franchise still further.

We can中出少妇视频檛 know what future lawmakers or even judges may attempt. Here中出少妇视频檚 what we do know: only adult citizens should be able to participate in elections. Drawing bright lines here is essential to preserving what it means to be a citizen of a republic.

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Here中出少妇视频檚 what the North Carolina Constitution currently states, Article VI, Section 1: 中出少妇视频淓very person born in the United States and every person who has been naturalized, 18 years of age, and possessing the qualifications set out in this Article, shall be entitled to vote at any election by the people of the State, except as herein otherwise provided.中出少妇视频

At first glance, that language may sound sufficient. It is not, however, as my John Locke Foundation colleague Andy Jackson argued in a recent paper.

The current provision (properly) requires equal treatment. If you are an adult citizen who is not currently serving out a sentence for a felony 中出少妇视频 that中出少妇视频檚 what the 中出少妇视频渆xcept as herein otherwise provided中出少妇视频 clause is about 中出少妇视频 you are guaranteed the right to vote. You can中出少妇视频檛 be excluded on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, or other extraneous criteria.

Look more closely at the language, however. It states that every natural-born or naturalized citizen shall be entitled to vote, but it is 中出少妇视频渋s silent on whether noncitizens can vote,中出少妇视频 Jackson pointed out. 中出少妇视频淭hat silence can be exploited by legislators or judges into allowing noncitizen voting.中出少妇视频

There中出少妇视频檚 another problem with the current provision: it specifies only natural-born and naturalized citizens. That leaves out a small but equally worthy class of citizens. If you are born overseas but your parents are American citizens, you are, generally speaking, a citizen yourself. As Jackson observed, the ranks of such foreign-born citizens include U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (born in Thailand), U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (born in Canada), and Raleigh Dreamville music festival organizer J. Cole (born in Germany).

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No one has tried to exclude such citizens from voting in the past, but why should North Carolinians cross their fingers and ignore the ambiguity? The proposed constitutional amendment would eliminate it. Rather than focusing only on who 中出少妇视频渟hall be entitled to vote中出少妇视频 中出少妇视频 which doesn中出少妇视频檛 truly preclude additional grants of voting rights 中出少妇视频 the new language specifies that 中出少妇视频渙nly中出少妇视频 adult citizens, regardless of how they became citizens, shall be entitled to vote.

We live in highly polarized times, to be sure. Trust, confidence, and mutual respect are diminishing. Too often, we assume that the ranks of the 中出少妇视频渙ther side中出少妇视频 are populated by liars, ignoramuses, or villains rather than accepting the possibility of honest disagreement among people of good faith.

In that spirit, let me stipulate that I don中出少妇视频檛 think all critics of the citizen-voting amendment are secretly plotting to extend the franchise to noncitizens or minors. Some surely find the 中出少妇视频渂elt and suspenders中出少妇视频 argument I中出少妇视频檓 advancing here unpersuasive. They think revising the constitution中出少妇视频檚 ambiguous language is a waste of time.

They are mistaken. An important principle is at stake. Let中出少妇视频檚 button those suspenders securely.

John Hood is a John Locke Foundation board member. His latest books, Mountain Folk and Forest Folk, combine epic fantasy with early American history (FolkloreCycle.com).