SCOTUS Blog: Symposium: The right to vote in peace

Gerald Hebert
Jan 23, 2018

American political campaigns are extended crescendos of vitriol. Passions and tempers run high. But at the end of all the viciousness, the citizens cast their votes. They have the right to do so in a place of peaceful contemplation. For tens of millions of Americans who vote in person, the voting process is designed to foster such contemplation. We are able to walk into the polling place without being harassed, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in Burson v. Freeman that states may bar electioneering within a certain distance from each polling place. We stand in lines together (hopefully very short lines, if the election is administered and resourced properly), and we mark our ballots next to each other. We submit our votes and take our “I Voted” stickers, hoping that our preferred candidates will be victorious, but willing in any event to accept the collective judgment of our fellow citizens — the very people with whom we just stood in line.

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