U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is taking his case against voter ID laws straight to the Constitution. He and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, are trying to encourage support for their “right to vote” amendment that will guarantee a citizen voting rights “in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides,” according to the resolution’s text. Ellison and Pocan are holding a voting rights forum in Minneapolis Thursday, which will feature leaders from Asian American and Somali groups. The members are two of the 32 House Democrats supporting this potential amendment.
The 15th amendment bans denying voting based on race or color; the 19th amendment prohibits restricting voting based on gender; the 26th amendment bars voting restrictions on age. But none of these amendments explicitly give a voting guarantee to all citizens that would nullify states’ voter ID laws.
“We have a crisis of civic participation in America and we need a renaissance of civic participation,” Ellison said.
There are only 27 amendments for good reason — amending the Constitution is arduous. Besides a small amendment on Congressional salaries ratified in 1992 (which was approved 202 years after its submission), a Constitutional amendment hasn’t been ratified in more than 40 years. If two-thirds of the House and Senate approve the right to vote amendment, it can’t be ratified until three-fourths of the states approve it.