Advancement Project Supports Proposal to Amend U.S. Constitution and Recognize Voting as a Right

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Contact: Victoria Wenger, vwenger@advancementproject.org, 202-728-9557

January 22, 2015                                                                                        

 

Advancement Project Supports Proposal to Amend U.S. Constitution and Recognize Voting as a Fundamental Right

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison proposed a constitutional amendment to guarantee every American’s right to vote. The proposal recognizes voting as a “fundamental right” for all Americans who are of legal voting age. The national civil rights group Advancement Project released the following statement in support of the proposed amendment:

“We strongly support amending the U.S. Constitution to affirm the right to vote for all eligible Americans,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “The amendment proposed today would ensure uniform standards for elections, no longer treating voting as a privilege but an explicit right for all citizens. In the absence of a constitutional right to vote, politicians and local bureaucrats are free to enact restrictive voting policies without proving any compelling reason for imposing them. We would never tolerate this kind of deference to politicians with other rights, like the right of free speech or freedom of religion. It’s time to protect voting in the same way.”

“An affirmative right to vote is essential to an equal and just democracy,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Penda Hair. “This necessity has become more glaring in recent years, as politicians, state by state, increasingly pass laws that make it harder to vote, especially for communities of color. The rise of restrictive photo ID laws that allow only limited forms of identification for voting, cuts to early voting periods, large-scale purges of voter rolls and other practices constitute a relentless war on our democracy. A constitutional amendment enshrining the right to vote is needed now more than ever, and we support the swift adoption of this amendment.”

“A constitutional right to vote is not only an idea whose time has come – it’s long overdue,” said Advancement Project Right to Vote Campaign Director Shuya Ohno. “Out of approximately 120 democratic countries, the United States is one of only 11 in the world that does not definitively guarantee the right to vote in its constitution. With no affirmative language making this right explicit, there is no guarantee for elections that are free, fair and accessible. Instead, civil rights advocates are forced to play defense, constantly litigating against attacks on voting. The constitution should provide an explicit safeguard against these assaults, once and for all. Democracy demands no less.”

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Advancement Project is a multi-racial civil rights organization. Founded by a team of veteran civil rights lawyers in 1999, Advancement Project was created to develop and inspire community-based solutions based on the same high quality legal analysis and public education campaigns that produced the landmark civil rights victories of earlier eras.