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Nearly 4 Million Americans Don’t Have the Right to Vote for President

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Currently the United States owns five inhabited island territories. The citizens of four of them — Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands — are all US citizens at birth. The citizens of American Samoa are born American Nationals who can gain citizenship upon moving to the states.

Many of these territories have belonged to the United States for over 100 years, and their citizens have contributed tremendously to American society. They and their state-born descendants have fought for the United States since World War I. They are scientists, astronauts, engineers, teachers, soldiers, politicians, and even a Supreme Court justice.

Thousands of them have moved to the states where they have become involved in their communities and even serve in Congress.

The territories, which have some of the highest percentages of veterans, do not have the right to vote for their commander-in-chief. This is a disgrace.

It is hard to believe, however, that for those who live on these Islands, they do not have the same equal rights as other U.S. citizens in the states. The two biggest inequalities are the lack of voting representation in Congress, and the inability to vote for president.

The U.S. territories do not have congressional representatives, and therefore do not have any electors in the Electoral College. This was also the case for Washington D.C., but the 23rd Amendment granted them electors in 1961.

The territories, which have some of the highest percentages of veterans, do not have the right to vote for their commander-in-chief. This is a disgrace.

The territories aren’t covered under the Affordable Care Act, and do not get equal funding for Medicare and Medicaid, despite paying their fair share of social security taxes.

The mistreatment of the U.S. territories have existed for well over 100 years, and have been ignored by both of the major political parties.

Perhaps the most disturbing legal precedents still in effect today are the Insular Cases. One of these cases was Downes v. Bidwll. Here is an excerpt of the ruling:

If those possessions are inhabited by alien races, differing from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation, and modes of thought, the administration of government and justice, according to Anglo-Saxon principles, may for a time be impossible…

This case, which is still legally valid, dealt with whether the Constitution applied to the territories that the United States owned. The ruling was that it did not.

Congress can pass laws over the territories that wouldn’t necessarily be permitted under the Constitution. In addition, according to the way the laws are now, Congress could decide to revoke the U.S. citizenships of those living in the territories, should they want to.

Citizens of the territories have a statuary-citizenship rather than a constitutional-citizenship, which is granted to those born in the states.

It is well above my current level of education to fully understand the complexities regarding how the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, and federal laws apply to the territories. However, I do not believe it is a complex notion to suggest that all U.S. citizens should have the right to vote for their president, regardless of whether they live in a state or a territory.

Regardless of who is elected president this November, it should be his or her priority to bring equal rights to the territories. All Americans, especially those living in the states, should speak up, and convince their representatives in Congress to fight for their fellow Americans in the territories.

Photo Credit: Alessandro Pietri / Shutterstock.com

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342 comments
Kenneth Abruzzi
Kenneth Abruzzi

So broke Puerto Ricans can't vote for more free stuff,that's okay with me.not paying taxes you sure aren't voting.

James Klash
James Klash

GOOD. We should give them their islands back to them.

Brian Sears
Brian Sears

But if they become our 51st state all of our flags would be inaccurate. Not to mention 51 stars doesn't look as uniform as 50 do lol.

Charlotte Frederick
Charlotte Frederick

Become a state and live by ALL the laws that we have too. Be careful what you wish for.

Dan Grause
Dan Grause

They choose to live there right.

Andrew Tiede
Andrew Tiede

You need to be smarter than the average bear. U.S. territories cannot enjoy the same rights as states do. If you're really passionate about voting for a candidate, vote with your feet.

George Foshee
George Foshee

That is BS we all get to vote..if they take away your right to vote, that is when the 2nd kicks in.

Brenda Duffey
Brenda Duffey

No matter who wins this election, I hope the American public will rise up to make serious changes to the way our so called "republic" is working.

Kim Jurincic
Kim Jurincic

#Donald Trump for President! S.E. Michigander YES I Campaign/Volunteering for TRUMP, President of the United States of America 2016!!

Don Grant
Don Grant

If you don't like it get congress to change the rules.

Pamela Dunson
Pamela Dunson

Either you are a US citizen or you are not. If you are ( and you are not a felon ) then you should have full rights. That includes the right to be represented and to vote.

Hardy Campbell
Hardy Campbell

Funny how our vaunted paragon of "democracy" is so very undemocratic. KInda like East Germany was called the German DEMOCRATIC Republic. Saying you're something doesn't make it so. Walk the walk, AmeriKKKan Empire, don't just talk the talk.

Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith

More Americans shouldn't have the right to vote in federal elections. I'd say anyone that doesn't pay a net $.01 in federal income tax should be ineligible to vote. On top of that I'd go for the and have voter registration and taxes tied together, so paying taxes would also register a person to vote. This would ensure every taxpaying American is ready to vote. It would empower eligible voters by making their votes more valuable and hopefully encourage more fiscal reliability. But to do this it required a constitutional amendment.

Aaron A. Haberer
Aaron A. Haberer

Thats because they are not states but territories and the ppl in those places vote all the time to stay a territory. So stop believing this rag of news

Gilbert Furguson
Gilbert Furguson

they also pay no taxes, those islands are not states if they move to the mainland or force the local govt to ask for statehood they can vote

Geri Anderson
Geri Anderson

surely THIS surprises NO one... except those who wear blinders.

Gene Tryp
Gene Tryp

Let's stop being an imperialist power and give them their independence. Half of Puerto Rico has wanted this forever. Give them what they want.

James Daugherty
James Daugherty

That's because they don't want to become a state and fall under the rules. If they would fo like Hawaii and become states then they could vote. But they only want tge good from the us they font want to help with its upkeep

Stephen Hawkland
Stephen Hawkland

They also don't get to pay income tax, but do get welfare, food stamps etc.

Dan Miguel Torres
Dan Miguel Torres

And only two of the four presidential candidates not excepting bribes !

Ruth Hill
Ruth Hill

Are they American citizens, idiot's?

David L. Cunningham
David L. Cunningham

So what they bare territories and not states or really part of the U.S. the way a state is. If they want a vote they can immigrate.

David Espinoza
David Espinoza

Are these territories countries with governments of their own?

Dave Bradley
Dave Bradley

ya, all they have to do is draft a state constitution and apply.... it is totally their own fault

Joe Shlabotnik
Joe Shlabotnik

It's all or nothing. None of these places has taken steps to be 100% American, so I'm faling to be outraged and concerned. Let's focus on the rights of people in the existing 50 states and the violations thereof.

Lola Marie
Lola Marie

Congress has not allowed PR. They've asked twice.

Walt Sabourin
Walt Sabourin

Give them voting rights!!! No American citizen should have voting rights withheld whether in North Carolina or in the territories.

Fred Jones
Fred Jones

Let them start paying taxes first. And actually, they do get delegates for the presidential race.

Lester Williams
Lester Williams

It would seem sensible for them to have propotional representation in the house. To have senate seats they would need to become a state in my perfect world.

John Plumb
John Plumb

Inexcusable in this technological day and age, especially from a country that's fought wars under the pretense of defending democracy.

Phill Chomiskey
Phill Chomiskey

More like succeeded in brainwashing a bunch a xenophobic jingoists.

Marjorie Díaz-Putnam
Marjorie Díaz-Putnam

It's horrible! We are treated less than Americans and the United States invaded our country!!

James Odo
James Odo

They should have right to vote. They're being treated like second class citizen. The law should be obsolete.

Ron Allen
Ron Allen

US territories are not states and do not file federal income tax. They have their own tax collection agencies. They do not follow every federal laws that the states do. sorry but until they are a state and abide by all of the same laws they do not get to vote. They should be allowed votes in the primaries also.

Phill Chomiskey
Phill Chomiskey

They should be allowed to be sovereign and free from neocolonial imfulence of the US.

Ron Allen
Ron Allen

Phill Chomiskey do you think they actually want that? What would happen to them? What kind of stable currency could they have? How could the defend themselves? In my opinion they currently have the best of both worlds.

Marjorie Díaz-Putnam
Marjorie Díaz-Putnam

In Puerto Rico we have the same currency, and follow the same federal laws. How do we defend ourselves? We serve in the United States military. Google the Jones Act and see if we really have the best of both worlds.

Ron Allen
Ron Allen

Marjorie Díaz-Putnam did you actually read my comment? I used the word could as in a hypothetical situation. It was in response to Phil's comment. I ask you this why does Puerto Rico vote against statehood?

José E Lizardi Ortiz
José E Lizardi Ortiz

Sorry bro, but that is not totally correct! People working for the federal government has to fill personal taxes to the IRS, and some businesses have to fill too, and those people doesn't have the right to vote. We have our Tax collection agencies, as any other state in the US. There are two cases in the US Supreme Court, right now, about what kind of Federal laws apply on PR, but the decision of the Boston Circuitry is that US Federal Laws rules over PR laws, and just look for the new law that the House is working on for the PR fiscal crisis, and you will see the that PR laws have no power. We also vote in both presidential primaries. Military personel living in PR doesn't have the right to vote too!

Ron Allen
Ron Allen

José E Lizardi Ortiz I realize federal employees do pay the irs. There are other benefits that come with being a federal employee.

Terry Meador
Terry Meador

My question is have the people want to be a state in USA???? Has there been a true and honest democracy vote???