I've long had a soft spot for the ACLU, even though they've had some weird ideas about guns, taxes and schools; their record on free speech is outstanding. I once briefly met a former President, Nadine Strossen, when she gave an excellent presentation on civil liberties to which no Libertarian could object.
So when the mail brought a complimentary copy of the latest issue of the ACLU magazine Stand, I settled down to read it with interest. I was keenly disappointed. The cover sported a splendid slogan, "For passionate guardians of individual rights and liberties" but it fast became clear that those words are used by the ACLU to mean something quite different from what they seem to say. From cover to cover the magazine is a diatribe against President Trump and a vigorous apologia for the far Left. Its keynote theme is set by a quote by spokesman Dale Ho:
No, it most certainly is no such thing; indeed, the right to vote does not exist.
It exists naturally enough in the context of voluntary associations like clubs and churches, where it can be a useful way to take decisions affecting all members when two or more alternatives are proposed to achieve a single objective; but as pointed out in Clubs and Governments, if anyone is really unhappy with the outcome he or she can easily resign. But in the context of the country as a whole, regardless of what government laws may say, there is no such right. Here's why.
A "right" is a convenient term used to refer to things every person is entitled to do, by nature; and all true and valid rights that exist derive logically from one single ("bedrock") right: self ownership. Every human being is by nature entitled to own and operate his or her own life, however he wishes. Because that is true and certain, it follows that nobody is entitled to own or operate anyone else's life.
That corollary has huge importance. Note that it's not a separate principle or premise, it's the flip side of the same, Self Ownership Axiom or SOA; since everyone has the right to run his or her own life, it follows directly that nobody has any right to run anyone else's life.
Before proceeding: is the SOA set in stone? How can we be certain? - yes it is, and here's how. Suppose you wanted to deny it. Say "I do not own myself." Now, by the very act of saying that explicitly, you are implicitly confirming that the proposition is true, for you are expressing an opinion, one that is yours! But if you didn't own yourself, you'd have no right or business to express any opinion at all; how dare you do that, when your brain and tongue and keyboard fingers belong to someone else?
That proof suffices very well, but there's even more: if arguendo you did not have the right of self ownership, someone else must be your owner, and you his slave. Now who would that be and how did he acquire ownership rights to you, when (arguendo) he does not even own himself? That question is impossible to answer, and so the denial fails. The SOA is rock-solid. Bedrock.
Once we clearly understand that, it's easy to see that a vast range of other rights are also ours, individually; any and all those logically derived from that fundamental right. But no others; if an alleged "right" does not logically follow from the right of self ownership, it's not a right at all.
Okay, now let's get to voting. If you or I have the right to do something, we can properly ask some other person to do it on our behalf - we can delegate the job, so he will be acting for us. That's what government people say is happening, when we vote for some politician; we're saying "I like what you plan to do, you have my endorsement and authority, go do it in my name." Hence, "government by the people."
So far, so good. But if we do not have the right to perform a task, we have no right to delegate it to anyone else.
So: do you have the right to force your neighbor to pay for your children's education, and to kill her if she persists in refusing? - of course not, for her money and her life belong to her, by the SOA. Therefore, you have no right to delegate to anyone else the job of forcing her, even though he offers to do it and ultimately, when his thugs try to evict her from her home, will.
Do you have the right to put someone in a cage if he smokes something you dislike? - of course not; by the SOA, his body is his own. Therefore, you have no right to delegate that task to a set of politicians.
Perhaps you donate money to help the poor. But do you have a right to imprison anyone who refuses to do the same? No way, for by the SOA their money is their own. So, you have no right to vote for someone who will forcibly redistribute wealth.
Do you have the right to kill employees of a foreign government? - again, by the SOA they own their own lives so the answer is, not at all - unless they have invaded and pose you an imminent, deadly threat. So, you have no right to vote for anyone who starts or continues nondefensive wars.
You might offer a retirement investment plan, collecting premiums and paying out benefits. But do you have the right to compel people to become your customers? - no way; they own and operate their own lives and will make their own choices. So you have no right to vote for anyone who enforces continuation of the Social Security scheme.
Have you the right to order Samantha Ramsey to stop her car, and to shoot her dead if she ignores you? - obviously not, for by the SOA she owns her life exclusively, and her car. So, even if you had resided in Hebron, KY in 2014, you would not have had the right by voting to authorize the employers of Tyler Brockman to do so on your behalf, or to have him acquitted of murder.
This could become a long list! There are tens of thousands of things government continues to do which flagrantly violate everyone's SOA; those above are just a few of the most important. You have no right to endorse those vicious activities, so since there are no candidates who propose to demolish the lot of them, you have no right to vote - despite the ACLU.
Some will say Ah, but the power to vote isn't absolute; ours is a Constitutional democracy, there are limits on what elected people are allowed to do. Among the several fatal flaws in that pleasant fiction, one suffices for its demolition: not one of the examples above falls outside those limits.
There is, clearly, a de-facto power to vote. Government junkies will assert there is even a duty to vote. Some governments have even made it illegal not to vote! But is there a right to vote?
Not on this Planet.