Many Americans believe they have a constitutional right to vote, but the U.S. Constitution guarantees no such right explicitly. While the 14th Amendment provides some protection, it is not comprehensive and has left many Americans vulnerable to Republican efforts to restrict the right to vote:
- In 2014, Republican legislators in 29 states introduced more than 80 bills to require a photo ID, make voter registration more difficult, reduce early voting opportunities, and make it harder for students to vote.
- As a result, a 2014 report found that voter ID laws in 32 states stood to keep as many as 23 million Americans from successfully voting.
Millions of Americans who voted in the last election are at risk of being turned away from the polls because of restrictive voting laws that require a photo ID, eliminate early voting, and make it harder to register.
To address this voter suppression, progressive leaders in Congress introduced legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution to explicitly guarantee the right to vote. The legislation’s text is simple and straightforward:
- 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.
Governor O’Malley believes that nothing is more important in our sacred democracy than the right to vote. As governor, he made it easier – not harder – for Marylanders to vote. He signed a bill restoring voting rights to more than 50,000 people with felony records, expanded early voting and allowed same-day registration. He even revolutionized Maryland’s voter registration process by creating an online system.
Passing a constitutional amendment that enshrines this fundamental right will give U.S. courts the clarity and authority they need to strike down Republican efforts to suppress the vote. The proposed amendment would set a high legal bar to defend against attempts to disenfranchise eligible voters, and empower Congress to enact strong electoral standards nationwide.
Amending the Constitution is hard, but voting shouldn’t be. Our current laws have failed to protect this fundamental right for too many people.
That’s why on the week of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act…GOVERNOR O’MALLEY IS CALLING FOR A RIGHT-TO-VOTE AMENDMENT.