The Right to Vote
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1870)
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Nineteenth Amendment (1920)
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any
primary or other election . . . shall not be denied or abridged . . . by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964)
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age. Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971)
Abraham Lincoln best described democracy as “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” For that government to be “by the people,” however, requires that the people decide who shall be their leaders. Without free and fair elections, there can be no democratic society, and without that constant accountability of government officials to the electorate, there can, in fact, be no assurance of any other rights. The right to vote, therefore, is not only an important individual liberty; it is also a foundation stone of free government. Source: http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/rightsof/vote.htm
History of Voting
1776 When this country announced its independence from Britain, voting rights were based on property ownership. This typically meant that those voting were white males over the age of 21 of Protestant religion.
1787 In the newly drafted Constitution, states were given the power to set voting mandates and most were still favorable to white males who owned property.
1830 Many states had dropped religion and property ownership as requirements for voting and with such a large percentage of the population at the polls, political parties were beginning to develop.
1868 The 14th Amendment recognizes African Americans as citizens, giving them the right to vote. However, state officials continue attempts to deny this right.
1870 African Americans were given the right to vote in the 15th Amendment. It prohibited any state or local government from denying that right.
1890 Wyoming becomes the first state to recognize women’s right to vote and provide for it in a state constitution.
1913 Voting power is expanded with 17th Amendment, calling for the popular election of US. senators.
1920 The 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution, giving women across the nation the right to vote.
1940 Congress recognizes Native Americans as citizens. However, it wasn’t until 1947 that all states granted them the right to vote.
1964 The 24th Amendment declares that no person should be denied the right to vote because they cannot pay a “poll tax.”
1965 An amendment to the Voting Rights Act bans the use of literacy tests, poll taxes and other obstacles designed to keep people from voting.
1971 The voting age is lowered to 18.