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Unpublished Paper
No Right to Vote: Suffrage in the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories
ExpressO (2008)
  • Jennifer L Stringfellow
Part I: The United States is not violating the domestic rights of the citizens in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and its other territories by denying them the right to elect voting representation in government or (in the case of the territories) the right to vote for the U.S. President, because U.S. Citizens in the Territories do not currently have the right to vote for president, nor do they or District residents currently have the right to elect voting representation in Congress. Part II: This denial does not violate the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights and/or the American Convention on Human Rights, because—combined with the attached U.S. reservations—the ICCPR obligates the federal government to grant Covenant rights by taking only those necessary steps which accord with U.S. constitutional processes, and the Constitution restricts the federal government's unilateral power to grant District and territory residents the right to vote. The ACHR is not being violated because the United States has not ratified it, and thus does not constitute an international obligation on the U.S. Part III: Without ratification, there are no available remedies for these citizens in ICCPR or the Inter-American System. The Supreme Court refuses to apply these conventions, so the only domestic remedies available are congressional legislation or executive order, statehood for the District and each territory, or constitutional amendment granting these people the right to vote. NOTE The manuscript is long--I am submitting it as I wrote it for Fairvote, who requested the research as part of its preparation for a lawsuit on behalf of Puerto Rico. As such, the explanations of case holdings are more elaborate than is typical in law review articles. I am fully open to modifying these sections with the help of editors, but I decided that the article as it stands is thorough and complete, and that the public might be interested in seeing the more extensive picture of voting rights in this election year.
  • Voting rights,
  • territorial rights
Publication Date
May 7, 2008
Citation Information
Jennifer L Stringfellow. "No Right to Vote: Suffrage in the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories" ExpressO (2008)
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