When the U.S. Constitution was adopted, only property-owning white males were given the right to vote in the original thirteen states. The Constitution, prior ot the adoption of the post Civil War amendments, barely referenced the issue of voting. Article 1, § 2 provides that members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by the People; Article 1, § 3 requires that the members of the apportionment of the House of Representatives shall be based upon a decennial census; Article I, § 4 delegates the responsibility for the election of Congress to the states: "The Times, Places And Manners of holding Elections for Senators and representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereof."
Notwithstanding these scant provisions, in cryptic language, Article IV, § 2, states that that "The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several states; Article IV, § 4, in similarly laconic language, provides that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government..." In addition, the so- called elastic clause, Article1, § 8  specifically enables the Congress "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Office thereof."
After the Civil War, the XV amendment extended the franchise to newly emancipated slaves. Some sixty years later, the XIX Amendment granted the franchise to women, and, fifty-one years after that amendment, the XXVI Amendment granted citizens over eighteen years of age the right to vote. Each of these amendments gave Congress was the right to enforce those provisions by appropriate legislation. Despite these specific grants of legislative authority and the language of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees each citizen in the states the "equal protection of the laws" the Congress of the United States has refused to establish uniform rules for voting, to address the problem of gerrymandering or to enact legislation that makes voter suppression a federal crime.
Inexcusably, for more than one hundred years after the Civil War, the Congress of the United States refused to outlaw the poll tax, literacy tests and a variety of other measures that were specifically designed by state legislatures to disenfranchise millions of potential African American voters and other minorities. Finally, in Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 117, (1964), the Supreme Court opined that "No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a choice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, they must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined."
Since the end of the Warren Court era, an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court has consistently backpedaled on the issue of voting rights. Most egregiously, in the case of Bush v. Gore, 532 U.S. 98 (2000), a five member majority of the Rehnquist Court was permitted to stage of a judicial coup d'etat in which they overturned the results of a presidential election and awarded the election to the loser, despite overwhelming evidence of voter suppression and illegal vote rigging by Florida GOP officials. The Court's decision in that case did not elicit even a whimper of protest from the organized bar. Subsequently, the evidence of voter suppression and vote rigging that were brought to the attention of the federal courts and the Justice Department concerning 2004 election results in Ohio was met with silence.
To the present, the United States is the only putative democracy in the world that refuses to enact and enforce measures to ensure the rights of all citizens to vote and require that their votes count equally. Rather, New York Times' correspondent Michael Cooper reported ("New State Rules Raising Hurdles at Voting Booth, October 2, 2011) that, after Republicans won control of many of the state legislatures and governorships in the election of 2010, more than a dozen states controlled by the GOP have passed new laws to make voting more onerous. The new rules included requirements for photo identification cards in Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin; requirements to present proof of citizenship in Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee; restrictions on voter registration drives in Florida and Texas; repeal of voter registration in on Election ay Maine; and an end to early voting in Florida, Georgia and Ohio.
A study released by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law n October of this year attempted to determine how many voters could be disenfranchised. The center reviewed 19 laws that passed and 2 executive orders that were issued in 14 states this year, and concluded that they "could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012." The report estimated that more than 5 million people could be affected by the new rules which is a number greater than the margin of victory in the popular vote in 6 of the last 13 presidential elections from 1960 to 2008.
These recently enacted legislative statutes and executive orders violate a fundamental premise of democratic government: the equal rights of all citizens to participate in the election of those who profess to govern them. As such, these measures to restrict voting rights should be an affront to every sentient person. Why has the party of Abraham Lincoln turned its back on democracy? Why have the Congress, President Obama, the Justice Department, the federal and state courts, elected officials in every state, county, and citizens, lawyers and every bar organization, and the millions upon millions of American who claim to be patriots remained silent and indifferent while the machinery of our political institutions is subverted from within?
Have we become so timid, so disillusioned, so jaded , so morally corrupted that we have lost our capacity for outrage?