Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan is proposing a right to vote constitutional amendment. “Right now there is not an explicit right to vote in our U.S. Constitution,” said the Madison Democrat, who introduced the “Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment” with Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison and a group of other House Democrats. “It’s certainly implied, they talk about discrimination in voting. But when they wrote the U.S. Constitution, white male property owners who were over 21 were the only people who could vote.”
Pocan said a constitutional amendment is the best solution, as individual states attempt to make it harder to vote. “I think it would reduce the individual fights we have state-by-state,” he said. “We see voting restrictions happen in the states, and the best way to deal with that is rather than state-by-state, is to make sure that there is an explicit right to vote within the constitution, so that the burden then falls on a state that makes it harder for someone to vote, rather than someone having to prove that they’ve been harmed by a state law.
Pocan and Ellison point to data from the Brennan Center for Justice, which found that more than 80 restrictive bills were introduced in 29 state legislatures last year.