While Republican state legislatures around the nation have been working to limit access to the polls over recent years, Democrats moved a non-partisan initiative forward over the weekend to help expand — or, at least, to help protect — the franchise for all Americans. At their Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, the Democratic National Committee unanimously voted to adopt a resolution calling for a “Right-to-Vote” Amendment to be added to the U.S. Constitution. According to the resolution, posted in full below, the Democrats are calling for “amending the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual’s right to vote.” The resolution also calls on “state parties to work with state lawmakers and others to access the need to petition for a statewide referendum on the November 2016 general election ballot (and all states where this is possible), advocating to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly guarantee an individual’s right to vote.”
As the document stresses, there is currently no such explicit right stated in our nation’s founding document, although several amendments bar the restriction of access to the polls based on race, sex and age. It also notes that while, in the past, the U.S. Supreme Court “has called the right to vote a fundamental right,” the court’s 2013 decision striking down a key element of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has served to “undermine” that right.
“Of the 119 nations that elect their public officials using some form of democratic elections,” the resolution notes, “108 have the right to vote in their constitution, but the United States is one of the 11 nations — including Australia, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, India, Indonesia, Nauru, Samoa, and the United Kingdom — that does not explicitly contain a citizen’s right to vote in its constitution.”