Thursday, December 6, 2007

Why you do not have a constitutional right to vote in the primaries.

There is a lot of clamor going on here in Florida right now about the primaries. Florida has moved it's primary elections up to Jan 29th, which is in violation of the Democrats rules on when we are allowed to hold our primaries. To punish Florida the Democrats have decided that they won't count Democratic primary votes in Florida. Even more they are not allowing any Democratic hopefuls to campaign or do money raising events in Florida.This is sparking action by the Florida government to have a court rule that the Democratic party cannot punish Florida for moving up it's primaries. The argument is that the people have a constitutional right to vote.The problem with that argument is that we don't have a constitutional right to vote. There are some things laid out in the constitution that we have a legal right to decide. However political parties are private organizations. They are bound by certain special laws to prevent fraud and create open disclosure, but they are still private organizations. We have no legal right to make any decisions about these organizations, including who they pick for their nomination for the president of our federal government. In fact, we do not have a constitutional right to even vote for our president. For a long time citizens did not vote for president. Even today we still do not get to directly vote for our president. We vote for our state, which is in turn handed over to an electoral college who really gets to pick. Historically they have always voted in line with the voters.Article 2, section 1 of the constitution sets out how election of the president is held. The twelfth amendment was passed June 15, 1804 and replaced a little under half of the wording. Amendments twenty and twenty-five where passed January 23, 1993, and February 10, 1967 respectively. The last two amendments deal with succession and term limits of the president, not with election.The constitution sets up what we now call the electoral college to vote for the president. Each state gets the number of votes as it gets delegates in congress. These electorates may be voted in by the people, or chosen by any other means as dictated by the states constitution.The point here is that the electoral college gets to vote for president, and who they vote for could be chosen by many different means, and not necessarily by the citizens of the state. So we therefore do not have a constitutional right to vote for our president. It's strictly a matter of local laws that have been passed in all fifty states that allow us to vote for the president.So back to voting in primaries. Given that we do not have a constitutional right to vote for our president, and that the constitution does not even mention primaries, it is either a matter of ignorance or intentional malice on the part of politicians and pundits to claim that we have a legal right to have a say in who a private organization nominates for president.
If for any reason the history of the constitutional congress interests you at all I suggest you read a very informative write-up on the subject at http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_elec.html