Chicago History Museum
Does the vote make us free?
For most of the country’s history, Americans have fought about who should vote. Activists have marched, petitioned, and demonstrated to fight for the right to vote. Gender, race, and age have each kept some from voting.
Constitutional amendments have expanded this right. In 1868, the Fifteenth Amendment extended the vote to African American men, and in 1964 the Twenty-fourth Amendment) outlawed voting fees, tests, and other tactics used to stop black voters. The Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granted women the right to vote. The Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971) lowered the voting age to eighteen in response to youth protests during the Vietnam War.
Despite the move toward universal suffrage, voter turnout is often low. The Outer Banks Sentinel (12/9/2010) reports that in the 2010 mid-term elections, 56% of registered voters did not vote. Many eligible voters are not exercising their rights in our democracy.