For a proposed amendment to be included in the constitution, it has to be ratified by at least three-quarters of the states. This means that out of the 50 states, 38 states or more are required to ratify the proposal.
Each state’s vote carries equal weight, regardless of the state’s geographical area or population. After the ratification, the amendment is considered to be an active section of the constitution.
Process of a Constitutional Amendment
All the regulations and processes to be followed when making a constitutional amendment are highlighted in Article Five of the constitution. For any constitutional amendment to be done, the laid out procedures must be followed to the letter.
1. Proposing the Amendment
The constitution provides that Congress may propose an amendment, and it requires two-thirds majority approval in the Senate and House of Representatives. Voting in Congress is only carried out if its quorum has been achieved. Congress proposes a constitutional amendment in the form of a joint resolution. A constitutional amendment may also be proposed by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. Out of the 27 amendments of the constitution that have been proposed, none has been proposed by constitutional convention.
Since the President doesn’t have a role in the amendment process, the joint resolution doesn’t go to the White House for approval. Instead, the original document is forwarded to the (NARA) National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of the Federal Registrar (O.F.R.) for processing and publication. The O.F.R. then adds legislative history notes to the joint resolution and publishes the resolution in slip law form. They also assemble information for the states, including formal duplicates of the resolution, copies in its slip law format, and the procedure for ratification.
2. Ratification of the Proposal
The ratification process begins after the amendment has been officially proposed in the Houses. Congress can decide whether to send the proposal to the state ratifying convention or to the state legislature for the ratification process. However, the state convention process is rarely used. If the proposed amendment goes through the ratification process successfully, it’s included in the constitution and is considered to have the same authority.
Administration of the Ratification Process
The administration of the ratification process is the duty of the Archivist of the United States. The Archivist is the director of NARA. He submits the amendment to the individual states for their deliberation by sending the informational material prepared by the O.F.R and a notification letter to each state governor. The governors then formally forward the amendment to their state’s legislature.
Once the states ratify the proposed amendment, they forward an original or a certified copy of their decision to the Archivist. The O.F.R. then examines the ratification documentation for legality sufficiency and a validating signature. If the documents are successfully verified, the Archivist makes public that the states have completed the ratification process. After that, the amendment and a certificate of ratification are published in the Federal Register and the United States Statutes. The publication of the amendment and the certificate signifies that the ratification process has successfully ended.