A Constitutional Right to Vote The Promise of House Joint Resolution 44

by Mollie Hailey // Published June 24, 2013

Establishing an explicit constitutional right to vote would strengthen the ability of all citizens to exercise their suffrage rights and limit the ability of federal, state, or local governments to impinge upon the right to vote. FairVote supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing such an explicit right to vote, because we believe that the right to vote is a cornerstone of representative democracy that depends upon broadly defined voter eligibility, universal voter access to the polls, and election integrity. Recent Supreme Court decisions only underscore the value of this approach, as a properly worded amendment would provide a check on abuses of federal power of the time, place and manner of congressional elections, a check on abuses of state power over voter eligibility in elections, and a means to establish policies designed to prevent practices at any level of government that unnecessarily undercut participation or have a discriminatory impact.

FairVote’s support of a broadly worded constitutional amendment to ensure that every U.S. citizen of voting age has a right to vote in every election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides is grounded in our analysis of American history and global and state models for a right to vote. U.S. House Members Keith Ellison and Mark Pocan have shown great leadership in introducing House Joint Resolution 44 (HJ Res. 44), which would establish a right to vote in the U.S. Constitution with language that is largely consistent with our recommendation. As explained in this analysis, HJ Res. 44 would provide much needed protection for an individual right to vote in the United States.