August 05, 2020

Van Hollen, Durbin Introduce Joint Resolution to Enshrine Right to Vote in U.S. Constitution

Ahead of the 55th anniversary of the enactment of the Voting Rights Act, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a joint resolution that would finally enshrine an explicit, individual right to vote in the U.S. Constitution, and protect all Americans who seek to exercise this fundamental right. Specifically, the amendment would: 

  • Provide an affirmative right to vote for every American citizen of legal voting age in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which they reside;
  • Require that any efforts to limit the fundamental right to vote would be subject to the strictest level of review in the courts;
  • Ensure that states could no longer rely on Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment to prevent Americans from voting due to a criminal conviction; and
  • Provide that Congress has irrefutable authority to protect the right to vote through legislation.
If ratified, this amendment would protect against nefarious election administration changes that lead to long lines and reduced voter turnout on Election Day.  It would protect against photo identification requirements that disproportionately harm lower-income voters and voters of color.  And it would provide a path to end discriminatory criminal disenfranchisement laws that are a relic of the Jim Crow era, and yet continue to strip millions of citizens of their fundamental right to participate in our democracy.  

Along with Van Hollen and Durbin, the amendment is cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). 

The amendment is endorsed by Advancement Project National Office and Rainbow PUSH Coalition. 

Full text of the amendment is available here