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History of the Right to Vote

Throughout the history of the United States, voting rights have been expanded repeatedly by Constitutional Amendments and legislation. When the Constitution was written, most of the Framers did not believe in universal suffrage. However, as we have progressed as a society, traditionally disenfranchised groups, including women and racial minorities, have received voting rights through Constitutional Amendments.  Of the 17 Amendments ratified since the Bill of Rights in 1791, more than one-third (seven) have been to expand voter eligibility or increase democratic participation. Enshrining an affirmative Right to Vote in the Constitution would be one more step toward universal suffrage and equal voting rights for all.

The History of Voting Rights (PDF)