In three weeks, citizens of the United States of America will vote for President, but not all American citizens will be able to exercise their right to vote, simply because of where they live.
Changing this is a fight Equally American has pursued for many years. On Friday morning, the nonprofit’s founder, Neil Weare, joined NewsTalk K57’s Patti Arroyo to talk about gearing up for another fight to expand voting rights in Guam and the US Virgin Islands.
Equally American has joined in on a lawsuit involving six Guam residents and the US Virgin Islands, Arroyo is one of the plaintiffs. The case focuses on the idea that where you live shouldn’t impact your right to vote. Weare says the impending lawsuit highlights some of the absurdities about who gets to vote and who doesn’t and it takes up the stance that “voting is a right, not a privilege.”
The lead plaintiff in the case is Randy Reeves who has lived on Guam for over 20 years. When Reeves was younger, he served in the Air Force and was stationed in Germany as a contractor. While there, he was able to vote through an absentee ballot. He was able to do the same while living in Hawaii.
Employed with the Federal Aviation Administration, Reeves was later transferred back to Guam where he is disenfranchised and can no longer vote for President.
Meanwhile, Reeves’ colleagues in Hawaii who were transferred to Saipan retained the ability to vote for President by absentee ballot, shared Weare.
“The lawsuit challenges the idea that the federal government or the United States can pick and choose who has the right to vote in these kinds of discriminatory ways,” Weare said.
The lawsuit is part of Equally American’s broader advocacy to fight for full voting rights for every U.S. citizen, whether one lives in a state or territory.
The four plaintiffs who are residents of Guam include Reeves, Ben Borja, Dr. Fred Schroeder, and Arroyo.