Voting Rights and Suffrage Timeline

  • 15th Amendment ratified

    15th Amendment ratified
    The 15th Amendment extended voting rights to African American men, allowing them to vote in American elections. The amendment explicitly stated that states could not discriminate against certain people based on their race. The 15th Amendment was only a small step towards race equality in the US because southern states found ways to get around the new amendment. National Archives
  • Guinn vs The United States

    Guinn vs The United States
    In the Guinn vs. the US court case, the "grandfather clause" in Oklahoma's Voter Registration Act was challenged. It stated that every person needed to pass a literacy test to register to vote but if your grandfather could vote, you were exempt from the tests. This indirect targeting of black people was declared unconstitutional, eliminating the grandfather clause. Oklahoma Historical Society
  • 19th Amendment ratified

    19th Amendment ratified
    The 19th Amendment extended voting rights to all women in the United States. At the beginning of the women's suffrage movement, some pursued the idea of gaining suffrage on a state level but eventually, they realized that a Constitutional amendment was the only way to gain full voting equality. Similar to the 15th Amendment, certain states made other laws or rules that indirectly targeted women and their rights. National Archives
  • 24th Amendment ratified

    24th Amendment ratified
    The 24th Amendment eliminated states' ability to use poll taxes in elections. States, usually Southern, used poll taxes to indirectly discriminate against African Americans and go around the 15th Amendment. African Americans usually didn't get paid enough to be able to afford the poll tax, limiting their right to vote. Britannica
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965

    Voting Rights Act of 1965
    The Voting Rights Act was signed to enforce the 15th Amendment that allowed black men to vote. The act eliminated literacy tests usually used in the South to keep uneducated African Americans from voting. However, states still found ways around the Voting Rights Act but utilizing things like poll taxes. National Archives
  • 26th Amendment ratified

    26th Amendment ratified
    The 26th Amendment lowered the federal voting age from 21 to 18. The draft for the Vietnam war was sending 18-year-olds to go and fight for the country but they still weren't old enough to vote for the people sending them to war. The common slogan for this movement was "Old enough to die, old enough to vote." Rock the Vote
  • Motor Voter Law passed

    Motor Voter Law passed
    The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the Motor Voter Law, made it easier for more Americans to register to vote. The act helped states develop a national mail voter registration form making registering to vote more accessible to more people. US Department of Justice
  • Help America Vote Act passed

    Help America Vote Act passed
    The Help America Vote Act helps states regulate and maintain the National Voter Registration forms and also requires a few new procedures for the states during elections. Some new provisions under HAVA include voter identification procedures, provisional voting, and upgraded voting equipment. US Election Assistance Commission
  • Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act implemented

    Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act implemented
    The MOVE Act established new voter registration procedures regarding overseas military voting. The act ensured that men and women in the military were still allowed to vote through absentee voting by electronic or mail. This way all soldiers' votes may be counted. US Election Assitance Commision
  • Florida Amendment 4 passed

    Florida Amendment 4 passed
    The Florida Amendment 4 was supported by nearly 65% of Florida voters, allowing Floridians with past convictions who have served their full sentences to have restored voting rights. Shortly after, the Governor signed a law saying these certain citizens couldn't vote unless they paid off their legal financial obligations. Brennan Center for Justice