Posted by Adam Fogel on March 11, 2009This morning, I'm attending a hearing for what some are calling the 28th Amendment -- if passed by Congress and ratified by enough states, it would require all U.S. Senate vacancies to be elected by the people (not appointed by governors). With all the attention being paid to this issue, you may have missed another Constitutional amendment introduced last week by former FairVote advisory committee member Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. His amendment, H.J. Res. 28, would add an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution--something most Americans take for granted. In reality, the constitution protects Americans against discrimination based on race (15th Amendment), gender (19th Amendment) and age (26th Amendment), but there is no affirmative right to vote. The U.S. is only one of a handful of countries without an affirmative right to vote in their national constitution.
Having an affirmative right to vote in the Constitution would give Congress much more flexibility in regulating the election process and would help standardize many practices currently in the hands of state and local officials. A Constitutional right to vote would also give more power to the individual voter before a court of law--see the decision in the infamous Bush v. Gore case, where the majority writes, "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College." A Right to Vote is not theoretical or academic--having it enshrined in our most precious document could change the course of history.
Here are some resources on the need for a Constitutional Right to Vote: [Advancement Project's In Pursuit of an Affirmative Right to Vote] [FairVote on a Constitutional Right to Vote] [Commentary on a Right to Vote by FairVote] [Commentary on a Right to Vote by the Advancement Project]