The Five Stages

  • The First Stage

    The first stage of the struggle to extend voting rights which came in the early 1800s. Reglious qualifications, instituted in colonial days, quickly disappeared. No State has had a religious test for voting since 1810. Then, one by one, began to eliminate property ownership and tax payment qualifications. By mid-century, almost all white adult males could vote in every state.
  • The Second Stage

    Post Civil War: The 15th Amendment was passed to protect citizens from being denied the right to vote because of their race. Was not enforced for nearly a century.
  • The Third Stage

    The 19th Amendment was prohibited the denial of the right to vote because of sex. Its ratification in 1920 completed the third expansion of suffrage. Wyoming, while still a territory, had given women the vote in 1869. By 1920 more than half of the states had followed that lead.
  • The Fourth Stage

    During, this time, federal legislation and court decisions focused on securing African Americans a full role in the electoral process in all states. With the passage and vigorous emforcement of a number of civil rights acts, especially the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its later extensions, racial equality finally became fact inpolling booths throughout the country.
  • The Fifth Stage

    The Fifth and latest expansion of the electorate came with the adoption of the 26th Amendment in 1971. It provides that no state can set the minimum age for voting at more than 18 and over were given the right to vote by this amendment.