Nothing is more fundamental to democracy that a fully protected right to vote. That’s why voters belong at the polls on Election Day -- and why a right to vote belongs in the U.S. Constitution. That's why we are so pleased to share good news. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. has introduced HJR 28, the right to vote amendment.
As our blog readers know, currently we have no constitutional right to vote. While many amendments eliminate discrimination in voting on account of gender, race, taxes, or age, no amendment actually grants the right to vote. The Supreme Court restated this fact during its 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore. HJR 28 would enshrine in the Constitution a right to vote for all Americans.
Our lack of a constitutionally enumerated right to vote directly disenfranchises millions of Americans and weakens opportunities to exercise voting rights for literally tens of millions more. Some Americans are clearly disenfranchised, including citizens living in our territories and the District of Columbia, and citizens living in states that ban people with felony convictions from voting. Others are more covertly silenced. For example, some 25% of all overseas military ballots went uncounted in 2008, and some six million votes were lost due to correctable administrative errors in the 2000 election.
If we had a right to vote, groups such as the elderly, the disabled, absentee and military voters would have better access to polls. In a country where voter turnout is routinely less than 50%, it is foolhardy to turn away people who actually want to participate and have a voice in government. In fact, the difficulty of navigating U.S. election laws related to turnout makes our turnout rate 139th among 172 nations worldwide.
The United States is one of only 11 democratic nations without a right to vote. The Help America Vote Act has improved voting in many respects, but we continue to do far too little to stand up for secure voting rights for all -- with barely two-thirds of eligible voters registered to vote, faulty voting equipment, poorly trained poll-workers and more.
You can help buy taking a few moments to help build support HJR 28, which in past years earned the sponsorship of more than 60 Members of Congress. Please click here to write your representative and tell them you would like them to join you in supporting a right to vote in the Constitution.
Without such a right specifically enumerated in our Constitution, politicians will continue to toy with who can vote and who cannot. That decision should belong only with each of us.