In Article V of the U.S. Constitution, our founders established the ‘Convention for proposing Amendments’ as a method by which ‘We the People’ – via our state legislators – might bypass Washington in order to propose and ratify those amendments deemed necessary to reform it. Here’s how it works:

Step 1. Two thirds of the state legislatures (34) must apply for a convention to propose a specific amendment or multiple amendments. Congress must count/verify the applications and then call for the convention by setting the time, place and amendment(s) authorized for discussion.

Step 2. The states must commission and send their delegations to the convention where they will first adopt procedural rules and then proceed to debate, draft and propose the amendment via a simple majority vote (26 of 50 states). The proposed amendment is sent back to Congress which must determine whether it was authorized and then select the mode of ratification (state legislatures or state ratification conventions).

Step 3. Three quarters of the States (38) must ratify the amendment before it becomes an official part of the United States Constitution. To commemorate the addition of a new amendment, there is a special ceremony held at the National Archives in Washington. This is extremely rare as it has only happened 2 times in the last 50 years.

The text of Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress …