What Kind of Right is 'The Right to Vote?'
Richard H. Pildes
New York University School of Law
Virginia Law Review in Brief, Vol. 93, pp. 43-50, April 23, 2007
NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 07-08
The right to vote is a deceptively complex legal and moral right. Perhaps because the right is considered so foundational to democratic self-governance, it is tempting to assume the right has an essential core concept that is relatively obvious and widely shared. But the right to vote is considerably more elusive and conceptually difficult than most constitutional rights. Indeed, it is the most complex of all constitutional rights. Not only does the right to vote protect several different core interests, but these interests are also qualitatively distinct. Put in other terms, there is not one right to vote, but several. Analogies to other constitutional rights might be apt when the right to vote functions to protect certain interests, but misguided when the right to vote instead functions to protect other, qualitatively distinct interests.
This explores one dimension of the right to vote, its protection of aggregative interests that groups of voters hold as members of particular groups. Responding to work of Adam Cox, this essay notes novel ways of conceiving this aggregative interest that policymakers might adopt. These includes systems such as storable voting, which enable aggregation over time, and systems that enable voters to choose in which of many potentially relevant local jurisdictions they might vote, which enable aggregation across jurisdictionally boundary lines.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 9
Keywords: democracy, vote, constitutional law, constitutional theoryAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 23, 2007
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