Voting in the United States
Voting is one of the most important ways citizens can make their voices heard in their government.
In federal, state, and local elections, voters exercise their right to choose representatives to fight for causes they feel passionate about.
Unfortunately, there are several issues that have been raised by concerned citizens and watchdog groups about problems with representation or about impediments and restrictions to voting. You can explore some of these issues by clicking on the links to the articles below.
Voter suppression refers to tactics aimed at lowering or suppressing the number of voters who might otherwise vote in a particular election. This can include measures that inconvenience voters or otherwise make it more difficult for citizens to vote in elections.
Voting and the Constitution
Contrary to what some people may believe, the original text of the Constitution itself did not have a heavy focus on voting rights. Many laws and regulations about voting that people assume are enshrined within the Constitution actually have been passed by individual states, been determined by Supreme Court rulings, or are governed by laws passed on the federal level. Amendments added later specifically addressed voting and are detailed below.
Constitutional Voting Rights
Article 1 of the United States Constitution gives the states the responsibility of overseeing federal elections. Amendments to the Constitution (along with other federal laws) have since been passed over time to help protect voting rights.
The 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote in 1870.
The 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, gave all women the right to vote.
The 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964, eliminated the poll taxes that many states had been using to prevent African Americans from voting in federal elections.
The Poll Tax
The 24th Amendment was ratified in reaction to the brutal, racist, and systemic voter disenfranchisement of African Americans by the southern states that had been a part of the Confederacy.