As he pitched himself to black voters in South Carolina Tuesday, Martin O’Malley called for a constitutional amendment to protect every American’s right to vote. “Many Americans don’t realize that the U.S. Constitution does not affirmatively guarantee the right to vote,” he said in an email to his supporters. “Passing a constitutional amendment that enshrines that right will give U.S. courts the clarity they need to strike down Republican efforts to suppress the vote.” O’Malley is specifically advocating for the passage of legislation introduced in the House in January, which states, “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.” The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
His push coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was instrumental in prohibiting racial discrimination at the ballot box. According to data compiled by the Brennan Center at New York University and provided an O’Malley campaign official, at least 19 states introduced bills last year that either require voters to show photo ID at the polls or tighten existing photo ID laws and four states reduced early voting hours.
These measures, according to O’Malley, are a Republican effort to systematically exclude voters who lean Democratic, including low-income, disabled and minority Americans, despite the success of the Voting Rights Act.