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Right to Vote Amendment

 

 

Everyone should have the right to vote in free and fair elections regardless of who they are or where they live. To that end, FairVote advocates for establishing an explicit individual right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. In pursuit of that ideal, FairVote works to enact policies at the federal, state, and local levels that are consistent with our conviction that voting is not a privilege, but a right. We have a strategy for change that is grounded in having a national vision and local action plan, as embodied by our Promote Our Vote project.

 

HJ Res. 44

U.S. House Members Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison have shown great leadership in introducing House Joint Resolution 44 (HJ Res. 44), a bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution establishing an explicit right to vote. HJ Res. 44 would provide much needed protection for an individual right to vote in the United States.

 

 

Why We Need It

The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy. Yet most Americans do not realize that we do not have an explicitly protected right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. While there are amendments to the U.S. Constitution that prohibit discrimination based on race (15th), sex (19th) and age (26th), no explicit right to vote exists. That hole in our Constitution creates gaps in our protection of what should be a fundamental right.

The 2000 presidential election was the first time many Americans realized the necessity of a constitutional right to vote. The majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, in Bush v. Gore (2000), wrote, "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States." The U.S. is one of only 11 other democracies in the world with no affirmative right to vote enshrined in its constitution.

 

The Right to Vote Amendment Will . . . 

  • Guarantee the right to vote for every citizen of voting age
  • Empower Congress to set national minimum electoral standards
  • Provide protection against attempts to disenfranchise individual voters
  • Ensure that every vote cast is counted correctly
  • Ground a movement for how we can live up to the ideal of the right to vote in our states and cities

Many reforms are needed to solve the electoral problems we continue to experience every election cycle. The first is providing a solid foundation upon which these reforms can be made. This solid foundation is an amendment that clearly protects an explicit right to vote for every U.S. citizen.

Right to Vote Blog

  • Not Helping America Vote: The Plight of the Un-filled Election Assistance Commission

    February 26, 2013

    Creating an active EAC is a simple positive step – and one that happens to be the law. Reform should be about systemic, enduring solutions, not just shorter lines. #wehavetofixthat

  • Who Needs to Fix That? We Do.

    January 7, 2013

    When President Barack Obama paused in his victory speech, thanking voters for waiting in long lines to vote but noting 'we have to fix that', one might have assumed that reform would come from the top.

  • New Commitment to Our Most Basic Right

    December 13, 2012

    Attorney General Holder has observed that, “too many citizens have reason to fear that their right to vote, their access to the ballot – and their ability to have their votes counted – is under threat.” Through reform of the systemic problems that plague our electoral process, we can combat this threat. We will ultimately need to think and act nationally; but now is the time for all of us to get involved in that effort in our cities and states.

Event: The Future of Voting Rights

On June 30th, over 100 people attended "The Future of the Voting Rights Act," a morning conference cosponsored by the New America Foundation and FairVote. The conference featured some of the nation's top voting rights experts, who came together to review the recent Supreme Court decision known as NAMUDNO and its impacts, and to think more expansively about voting rights and representation in the United States.

[click here to watch the entire event]