Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The blog of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reports that people on American soil are being barred from voting on the basis of race, and that, "the Obama Justice Department is refusing to enforce federal voting-rights laws in a race-neutral manner." According to a former Justice Department lawyer writing for National Revies:
Guam . . . bars anyone who is white, Asian, or Filipino from voting in this plebiscite, and even makes it a crime for them to try to register.There is a class-action lawsuit underway against Guam.
Guam is unapologetically and unabashedly violating federal law. Section Two of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits the "denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Section Two was derived from (and is authorized by) the 15th Amendment, the post–Civil War amendment that established that the right of American citizens to vote could not be "denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Both the Voting Rights Act and the 15th Amendment apply to all U.S. citizens, including residents of Guam. Further, the 1950 Organic Act of Guam . . . states that no "discrimination shall be made in Guam against any person on account of race." . . .
When I first encountered this news, it made by blood boil for a moment, but then a simple Google search showed me that things may not be so simple. According to the voter registration manual published by the Guam Election Commission:
"Native Inhabitants" shall mean those persons who became U.S. citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam and descendants of those persons... "Descendant" shall mean a person who has proceeded by birth, such as a child or grandchild, to the remotest degree, from any Native Inhabitant of Guam, as defined in Subsection (e), and who is considered placed in a line of succession from such ancestor where such succession is by virtue of blood relations.Further reading at the Statehood for Guam site indicates that there are indeed non-Chamorro individuals among the eligible voters. That said, I am nonplussed by the dubious eligibility requirements. On the one hand, just as any state would limit voting in a plebiscite to its own residents, the territory of Guam is arguably doing the same. On the other hand, these requirements in no way look like the residency requirements of the states some in Guam aspire to join.
These included Spaniard, English, American, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Mexican and citizens of other countries. They had one year from the American take-over to step forward and reaffirm to retain their respective country citizenship or choose to make Guam their home. [format edits, italics added]
The last line of the above quote makes it sound to me like anyone there who was already an American citizen, but wanted to make Guam his home would have had to renounce his citizenship, then gain it back to become a citizen of both -- something that strikes me as inconvenient and not likely done. If that's correct, then Guam's eligibility requirements less resemble normal state residency voting requirements and more closely resemble some of the thinly-disguised voting requirements, such as "literacy", that were used to exclude black voters from the rolls of southern states under Jim Crow.