"Until the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870, African American men did not have the constitutional right to vote. (African American women did not gain the right to vote until passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, when all women obtained this right). But even with this constitutional right, many states prevented African Americans from enjoying the benefits of full citizenship through laws known as Jim Crow laws." (Whitehouse.Gov, 2016).
The right to vote is something that has been fought for- in fact, people have died to obtain it in this country. The violence that followed the peaceful march of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Representative John Lewis on the Edmund Pettus Bridge illustrates how important the vote is- and how much can be changed through exercising that right.
Political change is driven by voting. Exercise your right to vote. Register to vote in Rhode Island and Massachusetts online, locate your polling places, and vote on November 8th.
The right to vote has been a vital part of American democracy since our very founding- but it has also been restricted from specific members of the population. In 1789, during our first national elections, only 6% of the population could vote- those that were white and owned land.
Our national conversation on voting still continues to this day. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to ensure equal and unfettered access to the polls through outlawing poll taxes, literacy tests, and more. This Act helped to ensure that voters had federal protection- however, in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Act, allowing states to change their voting laws without procedural protections in place.