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Pocan and Ellison Call on Congress to Pass Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment

Apr 9, 2015
Press Release
H.J.Res.25 would explicitly guarantee the right to vote in the Constitution

Washington, D.C. U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Greg Jones, President of the NAACP of Dane County, today called on Congress to pass H.J.Res.25 which would amend the U.S. Constitution to explicitly guarantee the right to vote. The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment would provide all Americans with the affirmative right to vote and guarantee this fundamental right.  

While most Americans believe an explicit right to vote is enshrined in our Constitution, the Constitution in fact contains no expressed guarantee of an individual’s right to vote, a point confirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore. Only a constitutional amendment can ensure this right will be guaranteed in the future.

“Most Americans consider voting a basic right, but some states are chipping away at voting rights and making it harder for citizens to cast their ballots,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “This amendment would prevent states from creating obstacles for Americans to participate in our democracy. Citizens get to choose their representatives.  Elected officials should not be able to choose their voters. As the world’s leading democracy, we must guarantee the right to vote for all.”

“Our democracy gains strength when more Americans participate in elections,” Rep. Keith Ellison said. “But millions cannot vote today because of restrictive voting laws in some states. A constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote would help stop this voter suppression. In 2015, we should make voting as easy as possible. Nothing should stand between Americans and the voting booth.”

“Ensuring equal representation at the polls helps to make certain that our communities also have sustainable jobs, environmental justice, criminal justice, equitable education, and voting rights,” said Greg Jones, President of the NAACP of Dane County. “In Wisconsin we face challenges that impact this fundamental right. The Right to Vote Constitutional Amendment would go a long way to ensuring civil and human rights in our Democracy, and the NAACP stands ready to carry the struggle for equality and justice throughout the election process.”

While the right to vote is essential to our democracy, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 83 restrictive bills were introduced in 29 states whose legislatures have had floor activity in 2014, including efforts to require a photo ID, make voter registration more difficult, reduce early voting opportunities, and make it harder for students to vote.

The text of the amendment is below:

SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.