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#IndexDrawTheLine: Are voting restrictions a free speech violation?

Should we consider voting restrictions an abuse of our human rights?

12 Nov 2014
BY MARGOT TUDOR
By Rama (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-fr (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

(Photo by Rama (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-fr], via Wikimedia Commons)

The right to vote has long been a symbol that you are seen as a valuable and worthy citizen by your government. The removal of this right is a restriction on your free expression and your ability to contribute to change in your country. But is restricting our right to vote a violation of free speech?

In the recent United States midterm elections there was controversy over the Republican’s use of voting restrictions to prevent groups — who they assumed would vote Democrat — from access to the polling station. The voter ID “fraud” laws have been accused by liberals as a shady measure to attempt to reduce voting by racial and ethnic minorities. It would also affect young people who lacked the supposedly necessary identification.

Voting age is another example of an ongoing debate surrounding this issue. Sixteen-year-olds were allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum earlier this year. Since then, people have questioned whether the voting age should be reduced to 16 for the upcoming UK general election, and whether sixteen year olds are capable of making a well informed decision. And if voting is an act of free speech, does this mean prisoners should have the opportunity to vote? If voting is truly a human right should we all have the right to vote?

This article was posted on 12 November at indexoncensorship.org

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