Washington, D.C – On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02), 1st Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, calls for a renewed effort to ensure the right to vote.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we recognize that our country has made tremendous progress as a result of civil rights advocates’ hard work and commitment,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “But the foundation of our democracy, the right to vote, is being eroded away in state after state. The 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder further restricted access to the ballot box, making it harder for citizens to vote.”

While the right to vote is essential to our democracy, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 83 restrictive bills were introduced in 29 states in 2014, including efforts to require a photo ID, make voter registration more difficult, reduce early voting opportunities, and make it harder for students to vote. The Pocan-Ellison Right to Vote Amendment, H.J.Res.25, would amend the U.S. Constitution to provide all Americans with the affirmative right to vote and protect this fundamental right.

“The principle of equal participation in our democracy for every citizen is fundamental to our political system,” continued Rep. Mark Pocan. “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. That is why Rep. Keith Ellison and I have introduced an amendment to the Constitution enshrining the right to vote. Passage of this amendment will guarantee every American would have the right to vote, and the ability to protect their individual rights and freedoms.”