What Kind of Right is “the Right to Vote”?

Volume 93

93 Va. L. Rev. Online 45
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The right to vote is a deceptively complex legal and moral right. Perhaps because the right is considered a “fundamental” constitutional right, or the foundational right of democratic self-governance, or the right “preservative of all [other] rights,” it is tempting to assume the right to vote has an essential core concept that is relatively obvious and widely shared. Undoubtedly there will be disagreements about specific applications—is felony conviction a justifiable basis, for example, for concluding that a citizen has lost the right to vote—but all rights generate some range of disagreement in application. Such disagreements do not undermine shared agreement on the core interests the right protects.

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