The foundation of American democracy is that government is by the consent of the governed, one person to one vote and every vote matters. This concept is the center to our democratic process and must be protected in a pursuit to protect equality.
Since the 1960s, one person, one vote served as a protection for constitutional rule. The cases of Baker v. Carr in 1962 and Reynolds v. Sims in 1964 gave federal courts power to hear issues of congressional districting and required that state legislature districts had to be roughly equal in population.
These cases, decided on the grounds of the 14th amendment, ensured that whether an individual lives in a rural or an urban area their representation in the House of Representatives is equal and their vote is worthy. The decisions mirror the statement of John Adams in 1776 that “equality in representation in the legislature is a first principle of liberty.”
The American system dictates that in the U.S. House of Representatives every person have approximately the same representation, which is the reason redistricting occurs every 10 years to rebalance the proportional representation of congressional districts. Thus ensuring that every person have a voice in congress even if they’re ineligible to vote.
The essence of a fair electoral system is that everybody has equal representation and that every citizens vote counts the same.
Which is why if “one person, one vote” is the foundation for equality, fairness, and democratic opportunity; “vote early, vote often” is the foundation for division, corruption, and unaccountability.
Voting is a ticket of citizenship which provides consent to be governed, if one person gives that consent twice they are negating the opportunity of another.
In Florida, where the Sun Sentinel of Jan. 2016 reports double voting can land a person in 5 years of federal prison, the occurrence is common among “snow birds” who vote in both their states of residence and their summer homes.
When a “snow bird” uses their double residence status as an opportunity to vote twice, they are disenfranchising the average Florida voter who can only vote once. This is a common dilemma among college students, often registered in their home state yet encouraged to register in their school state, opening the opportunity for double voting without knowledge of the ramifications.
Shockingly, the League of Women Voters of Florida president Pamela Goodman declared double voting is not a legitimate issue and “we should be focusing on enfranchising more voters and making it easier for people to vote.”
The truth is, this is the most fundamental issue to our American identity, the identity women Goodman represents fought for. In his 1957 speech “Give Us the Ballot” Martin Luther King Jr. explained “So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me.”
Voting twice makes up another’s mind for them, it removes them from the democratic process.
One person, one vote is not just a legal statute or a constitutional provision, but rather the foundation to a democratic built on equality. In order for our representatives to be fair, they must be elected fairly. We cannot undermine the experiences and battles of African Americans fighting for the 15th amendment and women fighting for the 19th amendment, a fight revolving around a simple concept; one person, one vote, ensuring that when it comes to the ballot box, everyone is equal and anyone can make a difference.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.