With election day 2020 just around the corner, it’s more important than ever to exercise your right to vote. The right to vote is something that has not always existed for everyone in the United States. In fact, voting rights have evolved substantially in the last 240 years.
1778: Electoral College Established
The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College in 1778. This determined that the American people won't directly elect a president with the popular vote. Instead, the Electoral College elects the president.
1919: 19th Amendment Passed
On June 4th, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment gave women the right to vote. There were many hurdles for over a year while states continued to agree with the new amendment. Finally in August of 1920, the amendment had obtained the agreement of three-fourths of the states. It was then ratified in late August of 1920, shaping women’s rights.
1965: Voting Rights Act Signed Into Law
The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The act outlawed discriminatory voting practices. For instance, requiring a literacy test as a prerequisite to voting became illegal. This act benefited those who were being denied the right to vote because they weren’t successfully passing that test.
1971: 26th Amendment Passed
On July 1st, 1971, the 26th Amendment was passed by Congress lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. The age was lowered because men were able to be drafted at 18 but could not vote. This amendment also prohibits state and federal governments from using age as a reason to deny individuals their voting rights.
1975: Voting Rights Act Expanded
Congress expanded the Voting Rights Act to protect the voting rights of those who do not speak or read English. The expansion accommodated the U.S. population whose first language wasn’t English. It also helped those citizens to have a say in their local, state, and federal elections.
2000: U.S. Supreme Court Chose President
While the president is typically elected through the Electoral College, there was one instance where the Supreme Court made the decision. For the first time the President, George W. Bush, was chosen based on the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. This was because of the extremely close and controversial election.
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