Passage out of Congress will be the hardest step and should make state passage easier. This is because all of the publicity, activism and excitement for a 28th Amendment will carry over to the state votes. However opponents will use every procedural tool to slow down achievement of true Election Reform.
Plus given the limited attention span of the general public, time will be on our opponents’ side. That’s why this citizens-led effort will need to keep the foot on the gas. It will be a state-by-state fight and most probably with a sunset provision that requires getting 37 states to approve the amendment within a certain time limit.
And this is when history will be made.
Step 3: State Ratification
An Amended History of Constitutional Amendments
In U.S. history, nearly 12,000 amendments have been proposed to the U.S. Constitution, and only 27 have been enacted so far. But several factors augur well for the ratification of the Election Reform Constitutional Amendment. First, public support for true campaign finance reform is bipartisan and regularly surpasses 60% in opinion polls.
Second, the most common amendments to the Constitution have involved adjustments to our elections and rules of elected offices. After the states ratified the Bill of Rights in 1791, 11 of the remaining 17 amendments – or 65% – fall into this category. These included the granting, extending or protecting of voting rights for women, minorities and young people. Other amendments allowed for the direct election of Senators, created Presidential term limits, and updated Presidential succession rules.
Third, America is currently amidst its third longest period between amendments. The longest lasted 61 years before the 13th Amendment and a bloody Civil War finally ended slavery in 1865. Two more Civil War-era amendments would be ratified, but then 43 years passed until the vast income inequalities of the Gilded Age spurred ratification of the 16th Amendment in 1910 to create the federal income tax.
The first half of the 20th century was one of the most active eras for successful amendments. Voters won the right to directly elect their Senators (17th). Alcohol was prohibited (18th) and 15 years later, that amendment was repealed (21th). In between, women earned the right to vote (19th), and the inauguration day was changed for both the Legislative and Executive branches. This active era unofficially ended in 1951 with the 22nd Amendment limiting Presidents to no more than two terms.
Presently, America is in its third longest period between amendments. The last amendment was ratified 27 years ago in 1992. It concerned Congressional pay and was a fascinating fluke in the history of amendments. So if you don’t count this amendment, one must go back to 48 years to 1971 when the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18.
So the time has more than come for another updating of our august founding document. This can be achieved through FREE THE VOTE’s 3-step plan. Three simple steps, but they will require a marathon effort to liberate our democracy.