Dylan Fernandes, our state representative, asked for a thoughtful debate on whether voting is a civic duty or a civic right. (Beacon Hill Roll Call in last Friday’s issue.) What he got in response were vehement rejections of any such debate. My own opinion is that voting is our civic right and our civic responsibility. Our civic duty, on the other hand, is to vehemently reject all attacks on every voter’s right to free and fair elections.
We voters have a civic duty to work hard to end electoral gerrymandering. New computer techniques have produced districts that have grown up from our original Massachusetts Salamander into shapes that are more like three-legged giraffes. The goal is to produce safe districts for favored political parties. The result is to munch away at the civic rights of voters.
We voters have a civic duty to work hard to undo the “Citizens United” ruling of the Supreme Court. That ruling equated campaign contributions with protected free speech. Tsunamis of special interest campaign contributions have since flooded in, washing away the civic rights of voters to free and fair elections. To quote Bernie Sanders: “Today, virtually no piece of legislation can get passed unless it has the okay from corporate America—and that is because corporate America funds most campaigns.”
Judith G. Stetson