Voting, as is practiced today, in the United States has a long and violent history. It is only by hard struggles that this act, as done by today’s standards, has evolved. Many people do not know that there is nothing in the original United States Constitution regarding the right to vote. So, at the beginning each state set their own standards unless off-set by federal laws.
In the beginning, voting was closely guarded and only white men, who owned property, were allowed that privilege. An exception was four states that allowed freed slaves the privilege. Women, working men, Indians and any other race did not have that right.
The Civil War found white men with permission to vote, whether or not they owned property, however, poll taxes, religious tests and literacy tests were common in many places, which barred many from that possibility. Others still could not vote. In 1866, the US Constitution granted freedom to the slaves and in 1869, the 15th Amendment gave them the election rights. Women were still denied this right.
There were many states that still denied a large number balloting rights by devious means of poll taxes, threats, literacy tests and other means. It was the 19th Amendment, in 1920, that finally allowed women the right to vote. The Native Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans were still struggling to obtain their rights. For example, all Mexican Americans did not receive the right to vote until 1975.
The Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned literacy tests and enacted federal enforcement of balloting registration. Many Americans who could not speak English fluently still had problems understanding balloting. The Voting Rights Act of 1970 provided language assistance for these people. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed to require states to provide facilities for people with disabilities so they could enter the polling place to vote.
Today there are still problems going on, in various states regarding balloting. The famous 2004 Presidential election, with Florida’s vote challenged, is one example. When there was a dispute over the vote result, the courts stopped a re-count of the ballots. Following the election, news bureaus recounted the ballots and found that the person who was put in office, as President, did not really win the election.
There are many challenges today regarding balloting. Accusations of alleged felons (who have no election rights) being on the voter rolls, electronic machines that malfunction, minority districts being denied enough electronic machines and other issues still prevail. The person who casts a vote today often has no idea of the struggles that ensued, over the years, to give them this privilege. Unbelievably, there are still eligible voters in the United States who do not register or vote in the election of public officials or on issues such as increasing taxes and changing existing laws.
It is only by balloting that things can be changed and it is a simple matter of registering to vote, which can be done any time of the year at many public offices. Today, a person does not even have to leave home to vote but can have a mail-in ballot. Whenever there is a vote it affects everyone’s life in one way or another. Public officials are elected to speak for the people they represent and need votes to be put in office. Voting is a way for a person to have their voice, on many issues, heard.
Find out more, visit: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting.shtml