Voting is a serious responsibility and civic duty.
So many people choose not to exercise their right to vote, but what they may not realize is that for hundreds of years people have fought for the right to cast a ballot. While women’s suffrage is the most famous example of fighting for the right to vote, voting rights have actually been granted incrementally, and we still have a long way to go.
Check out this powerful photoset.
The organization Roaring Gold recently asked people to submit photos of themselves holding a sign with one simple piece of information: when people of their demographic were allowed to vote in the United States.
After we gained independence, white men were granted the right to vote as long as they owned land. Not rich? You were out of luck.
Black men were able to cast ballots after the 15th amendment was passed in 1870. However, many of them were not able to exercise that right due to voting taxes, literacy tests, violence, and intimidation at the polls.
In 1920, women were finally able to vote. In theory, this would have meant all women, but other discriminatory laws prevented non-white women from voting for the next 40+ years.
Roaring Gold didn’t receive photo submissions from Filipinos, who were granted the right in 1946, and Chinese immigrants and other Asian Americans, who were able to vote beginning in 1952.
Native Americans had previously been granted the right to vote in 1924, but only if they renounced their tribal affiliation. In 1962, Native peoples who still claimed their heritage were finally able to participate in the voting process.
In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, preventing discriminatory practices at the polls that largely affected people of color, with women of color affected disproportionately.
You may have heard that the Supreme Court recently overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act, saying it was no longer relevant. This dismayed activists who say the law is still necessary to prevent voter discrimination today.
In 1975, voting materials were finally able to be printed in languages other than English, allowing non-English-speaking citizens to vote.
It wasn’t until 1993 that voter registration materials were available at the Department of Motor Vehicles, through public assistance organizations, and at disabilities agencies. Before this, disabled people often did not have access to vote.
U.S. Citizens in territories controlled by the United States like Guam and Puerto Rico are still waiting for their right to participate in the political process. They’re citizens in every way…except this one.