Letter: Right vs. privilege

November 6, 2013 

Letter: Right vs. privilege

I wonder if it would be asking too much for candidates for legislative positions to have at least a basic familiarity with the Constitution?

I was watching Phil Lemley's TV ad during the campaign and was startled when he closed out with "Please vote. It's a privilege we should never take for granted." Privilege? Really? I thought voting was a constitutional right.

I'm hardly a student of the Constitution. In fact, the last time I read it in detail was when I was in high school in the middle of the last century, but I couldn't recall the word "privilege" associated with voting. Just to be sure, I read through a copy I have and within about 10 minutes or so I found citations in the 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments that specify voting as a right.

I thought maybe Phil was referencing something in the Washington State Constitution. I did an Internet search for the Washington State Constitution and found that Separate Article 1 cites voting as an entitlement. No reference to "voting privilege" in either document.

It seems important to me that a qualified legislator should be familiar with the protections and provisions of the constitutions as he or she goes about the business of creating the laws we all have to live with.

AL SAMPSON, Richland

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