Compared with passing Congress by a two-thirds vote, winning state ratification should be easier. All of the publicity, activism and excitement for a 28th Amendment will carry over to the state votes. However, moneyed opponents will use every procedural tool to slow a prompt ratification vote.
That’s why this citizens-led effort must keep its foot on the gas. It will be a state-by-state fight. We will fight to quickly get the amendment considered in every state, with all variety of rules. But this will be when we make history.
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 so far been enacted. 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 80% in opinion polls.
Second, the most common amendments have adjusted our elections and rules of elected offices. After the ratification of the Bill of Rights, 11 of the remaining 17 amendments – or 65% – fell 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 in its third longest period between amendments. The longest lasted 61 years until the bloody Civil War and the 13th Amendment finally ended slavery in 1865. Two more Civil War-era amendments would soon be ratified. 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 Alcohol was prohibited (18th) and 15 years later, that amendment was repealed (21th).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 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.
The last amendment was ratified 28 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 49 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 Constitution. 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.