Do We Have a "Right to Vote" in the United States?

Last week marked the 151st anniversary of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which declares “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

While the 15th Amendment was objectively good and greatly expanded and protected voting for Black men and other previously excluded groups, there is a common misconception that it grants a universal right to vote.

It does not. There is no universal right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. 

Prior to the 15th Amendment, the ONLY mention of voting in the Constitution was exclusively referring to the House of Representatives. That means the amendment could be interpreted as inapplicable outside of that particular body. 

The flimsiness of our voting "rights" is also very evident in the inconsistent patchwork system we have -- over 13,000 precincts nationwide -- and they all have wildly different rules around WHO can vote and HOW.

So while we celebrate this anniversary as a significant shift in culture and values, we have to tell the whole truth -- it is nowhere near enough! 

Yes, Move to Amend is an organization working toward a 28th Amendment that would make clear that corporations are not people, and money is not free speech.

But it's becoming increasingly clear that we may also need to consider an overhaul of this ancient, inadequate document. Our rate of amending the Constitution is proving to be far too slow, in the context of rapidly advancing economic, social, and ecological collapse.

---> We need a REAL right to vote, if we are to call ourselves "a democracy."

---> We need a right to healthcare, and a right to housing.

---> We need rights of nature, because climate collapse will soon make all other conversations irrelevant.

In other words, we need a People's Constitution!

Check out our new project (in partnership with Democracy Unlimited), Toward a People's Constitution -- where we use the participatory People's Movement Assembly process to envision together what a constitution that is rooted in human rights (and rights of nature) would look like.

As we begin to create the space for this long-overdue national conversation, Move to Amend remains deeply committed to our primary goal of passing the #WeThePeopleAmendment -- we still believe it is the single most powerful legislation in Congress to end corporate rule and return power to the people!