Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Cohen’s SIMPLE Voting Act Would Guarantee Early Voting Availability in Every State, Reduce Wait Times

January 22, 2015
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) has introduced H.R.411, the Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act, which would ensure that every state allows citizens to vote for at least 15 days prior to federal elections and require that states provide adequate poll workers and other resources to prevent wait times of longer than one hour. Congressman Cohen also joined Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Keith Ellison (MN-05) on Capitol Hill today to introduce H.J.Res.25, which would explicitly guarantee the right to vote to in the Constitution, an implied right which is currently not enshrined in the document’s text and that has been eroded in recent years.

“With more than 300 successful voting rights lawsuits over the last 2 decades, the Supreme Court striking down critical Voting Rights Act protections, and states across the South making it harder for citizens to vote, it is clear that more must be done to protect this cornerstone of our democracy,” said Congressman Steve Cohen. “Our constitutional amendment would clearly and unequivocally guarantee the right to vote for each and every American, and my SIMPLE Voting Act would ensure they can do it conveniently and without burdensome, unfair wait times. Both would be important steps forward in the march for civil rights.”

In addition to guaranteeing early voting opportunities and adequate resources, Congressman Cohen’s SIMPLE Voting Act would strengthen enforcement of these rights to ensure states comply with the legislation’s provisions. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 83 restrictive bills were introduced in at least 29 states, including efforts to require a photo ID, make voter registration more difficult, reduce early voting opportunities, and make it harder for students to vote.

While most Americans believe an explicit right to vote is enshrined in our Constitution, the Constitution in fact contains no expressed guarantee of an individual’s right to vote, a point that was confirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore. Only a constitutional amendment can ensure this right will be guaranteed in the future.

The text of H.J.Res.25, the Right to Vote Amendment, follows:

SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.