Jackson / USA TODAY
CINCINNATI -- Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson received the support he sought Wednesday from the city council for a proposed "right-to-vote" constitutional amendment.
The council voted 7-0 on a proclamation that states its desire for Congress to pass a House and Senate joint amendment that would add a right-to-vote amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Jackson said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is the first mayor nationally to support the legislation, and he praised Cranley for "his commitment to fulfill the promise of democracy."
The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to vote. The United States has a states' rights and local control voting system, Jackson said, leaving the country with 50 state systems, plus the District of Columbia -- plus 3,143 counties of county equivalents, 13,000 local voting jurisdictions and 186,000 voting precincts, "all organized on what amounts to a separate and unequal voting system," Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, told the Enquirer.
Jackson, 72, said Ohio and Hamilton County are good places to start the voting amendment movement. Hamilton County commissioners earlier this year took over property in Mount Airy and suggested the county's Board of Elections operations move there as well. It sparked a huge debate over whether early voting should move, too.
"They want to move it from the city center to the edge of town," Jackson said, adding that Ohio is one of 22 states where proposed voting restrictions have either been put into place or attempted since 2010.
"In this country, people have an amendment to protect free speech," Jackson said. "They have an amendment that gives them the right to carry a gun. They do not have an amendment protecting their right to vote.
"We have to be a beacon of light to run open, free and fair elections."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in July that he plans to join a lawsuit seeking to overturn a Republican-passed election law that eliminates days from Ohio's early voting period and ends same-day registration. The Ohio law originally reduced early voting by six days. A federal judge ruled in May that early voting could take place on the final three days before an election.
Jackson said mayors and local political leaders in Chicago Houston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona are among those who have expressed a desire to publicly support the voting amendment.
Wednesday is the 49th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed racial discrimination in voting.
Part of the Voting Rights Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. In Section 4, the original act provided for special intervention in jurisdictions in which racial discrimination is believed to be greatest. Section 5 required those jurisdictions to obtain permission ahead of time to change its voting laws. The court struck down Section 4 last year, making Section 5 largely meaningless.
Read the original story: Cincinnati backs right-to-vote amendment proposal