History of Voting Rights


Struggle to remove religious restrictions

1776 - 1828

Between the first Continental Congress in 1776 and adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 the former colonies evolved into states, some of which barred Jews, Quakers, Catholics, and other "heretics," from voting or holding office.

When the new United States Constitution is adopted in 1787, prohibits religion restrictions: "... but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States

U.S. Constitution Adopted.


In the debates over adopting the U.S. Constitution there were lots arguments over who should be allowed to vote. In particular, the slave-states insist that only white males should be allowed to vote

Women's Suffrage Movement.

1848 - 1920

In 1848 the first Women's Rights Convention is held in Seneca Falls, NY. It demands that women be granted all rights as full citizens including the right to vote.
For the next 72 years women and some male supporters spoke out, petition, lobby, sue, protest, march, and engage in civil-disobedience, for the right to vote.

14th Amendment extends citizenship to Blacks.


Under the 14th Amendment all states are required to recognize Black (and white) males as citizens.
But for the first time women of all races are explicitly excluded in the Constitution from full citizenship in regards to voting.


1867 - 1877

During the Reconstruction period hundreds of thousands of Black men risk their lives and property to vote, and many were elected into office.

Woman Suffrage Amendment introduced in Congress.


The amendment is introduced in 1878. It takes 42 years of the brave struggle to finally ratify it in 1920.

19th Amendment extends right to vote to women.


After 72-year fight , women finally won the right to vote. But prejudice and discrimination against women and office-holders continues for more time

Civil Rights Movement demands the right to vote.

1960 - 1965

with the phase of the Civil Rights Movement — sit-ins, freedom rides, marches, boycotts — voting rights and segregation came up as the two biggest issues, intertwined and inseparable.

Passage of Voting Rights Act.


the mass protests in the streets in Washington to break the filibuster by Southern Senators determined to block the Voting Rights Act. For just the second time in history, a southern filibuster on a civil-rights issue is defeated on the vote. The Act is passed.

Voting Rights Act takes effect.


By the end of the 1965, about 250,000 new Blacks had come to vote and have been registered in the South. By the end of 1966, only 4 out of the 13 southern states have less than 50 percent of African-Americans registered to vote.