2014 Law Day Essay Question

Write an essay on the topic:

LAW DAY 2014

American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters

AND YOU COULD WIN UP TO $250

THIS YEAR’S ESSAY QUESTION:

One of our most cherished national ideals, expressed eloquently by Abraham Lincoln, is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” It is a principle enshrined in our nation’s founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The right to vote is the very foundation of government by the people. For this reason, striving to establish and protect every citizen’s right to vote has been a central theme of American legal and civic history. Much of the struggle on voting rights began decades ago, but the work is far from complete, and a citizen’s right to cast a ballot remains at risk today.

As we approach the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 2014 Law Day theme calls on every American to reflect on the importance of a citizen’s right to vote and the challenges we still face in ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in our democracy.

In recent years, one of the larger issues being debated in election law relates to the enactment of voter identification laws by certain state and local jurisdictions, which require citizens to present photo identification in order to vote. Many argue that these laws amount to unlawful discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and individuals with low incomes. In June, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, addressed the constitutionality of certain provisions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. One of those provisions required certain states and local governments to obtain federal “preclearance” before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices, such as adding “voter ID” requirements. Even in effectively striking down the “preclearance” provision of the Act, the Court acknowledged that voting discrimination still exists, despite all of the progress that has been made since 1965.

Question: Considering the foregoing, please compose an essay examining the following: Should individuals be required to show photo identification in order to vote? Are such requirements discriminatory? Why or why not? Are there better alternatives for maintaining the integrity of elections while still ensuring ease of access to the voting booth to all eligible people? What are some of those alternatives?

 

Each essay will be judged based upon format, clarity, style, reasoning, creativity and overall effort.

ENTRY DEADLINE: 3:30 P.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 2013, AT THE TOLEDO BAR ASSOCIATION. NO STAPLES PLEASE.

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