Counting the Right to Vote in the Next Census: Reviving Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment

Note - Volume 94 - Issue 1

In this Note, Mr. Hurta explores the role that Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment can play in protecting the right to vote. Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that a state’s congressional apportionment basis shall be lessened when it abridges or denies citizens’ right to vote, is often viewed as a historical anomaly. While Section Two does not directly invalidate any laws, it has no limitations on the intent of voter abridgments, so it reaches farther than any other voter protection in American law. Furthermore, statutory law already gives the power to enforce Section Two to an executive agency: the Census Bureau has the authority to collect data as necessary for congressional apportionment. Mr. Hurta therefore argues that the 2020 Census should ask questions about people’s right to vote, and the subsequent apportionment calculations ought to take that data into account. By adhering to this legal duty, the Census Bureau will become one of the most powerful protectors of voting rights in the government.

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