Chair Representative Karamatsu, Vice Chair Ito, members of the Judiciary Committee,
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii strongly supports the establishment of a statutory right to vote for the citizens of the State of Hawaii.
We all seem to take for granted our right to vote, but nowhere in the U.S. Constitution or the Hawaii State Constitution, are we citizens given the explicit right to vote. The 19th Amendment, for example, states “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. “
If I were denied the right to vote and wished to challenge that in court, I would need to prove that the vote was denied me because I am a female. That would be more difficult than to prove that I was wrongly denied the right to vote, period. Amendment XV says, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” While you may be able to prove that you were wrongly denied the right to vote, it would be more difficult to prove that you were not allowed to vote because or your race, color or previous condition of servitude.” While the right to vote seems implied in both of these amendments, would it hold up in court?
In a discussion on the Brennan Center website on voter disenfranchisement, I raised the question of whether an amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving all citizens the right to vote might help solve the problem. The reply was that it would, but the amendment would have to be worded in such detail so that no other interpretation would be possible, and that the process takes so much time and money, that considering all of the problems we face as a nation, it would probably not be worth the time and effort.