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Letter: The right to vote is protected by the First Amendment

It is most peculiar that the proponents of "original intent" jurisprudence seem to have such poor record with regards to voting rights. If we were serious about the original intent of the Founding Fathers, then we ought to rethink some of our assumptions about voting rights in America.

History suggests that one of the main intentions behind the First Amendment was to protect political liberty. In the days before modern communications, everything from the act of voting, to the act of supporting a political cause, involved the exercise of speech, press, petitioning and peaceful assembly.

Voting was a public declaration that operated without government printed ballots.

When political parties formed they were given the task of printing up their own paper ballots to distribute to citizens at the polls.

Many different parties competed for votes in a marketplace of ideas that would make Adam Smith giddy. By the time that government printed ballots became widespread, the Founding Fathers were all dead and buried.

In light of this history, why don't most "originalist" view voting and candidacy as activities protected by the First Amendment?

Instead, we see originalists disenfranchising Native American voters and upholding regulations that exclude serious minor parties from the government-printed ballot.

Supporters of original intent jurisprudence tend to believe that, "money equals speech," but when it comes to voting or candidacy, suddenly the jurisprudence struggles find an equally strong First Amendment connection.

Brown lives in Perham, Minn.

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