Grassroots organization suing Uncle Sam over right to vote - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Grassroots organization suing Uncle Sam over right to vote

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 by Isa Baza

Guam - With President's Day just around the corner, many don't realize that millions of American citizens are still being denied the right to vote - including citizens in Guam.

Guam has been a part of the United States for 117 years, with residents here serving at higher rates in the u-s military, along with a casualty rate 400% the national average. Yet citizens in Guam are not afforded the right to vote - not for president and not in Congress. We the people project is a grassroots organization planning to file a lawsuit against the federal government to correct this.

Attorney Leevin Camacho told KUAM News, "What the goal is at least in this particular project it's going to be to argue that the people of Guam are entitled to vote for president and to participate in the election of the commander and chief."

The reason citizens in the territory cannot vote is because of a decision made over 100 years ago. "A court decided it in 1901 or 1904 that the territories should be treated differently but do those same arguments still apply in 2015? Is there any real basis to deny us citizens living on US soil the right to participate in democracy? And the answer to that is no," he said.

Some arguments against allowing people in Guam to vote for president include everything from paying federal taxes, to choosing to live in a territory rather than a state, to having a disproportionately small population. But are any of these arguments valid? Camacho argues no. "Democracy is kind of founded on this concept of the governed so we live in a situation where we have 145,000 citizens living on Guam on US soil, but we aren't allowed to participate in democracy in the very simplest and basic senses," he said.

It's not just us, however, as millions of others living in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other US territories are also denied the right to vote.

Meanwhile, military servicemembers stationed here in Guam and abroad are still afforded that right. Camacho says it's a matter of awareness, lobbying government representatives, and taking action. "As of now we're encouraging people to go to representguam.com to fill out a survey, the next phase is going to be the filing of a lawsuit surrounding the right to vote for president," said Camacho.

Camacho says they will be looking to file the lawsuit against the federal government this coming spring, and are hoping this lawsuit will bring local and national attention to the issue. 
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