Less Than Fundamental: the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Date Written: 20/06/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX22659
The story of voting rights in America is one of exceptionalism. In 1787 when the US Constitution was drafted the right to vote was absent from the text.
The traditional story of voting rights in America tells how franchise and democracy expanded over time. First in the 1820s states started dropping property requirements to vote and began allowing qualified individuals the right to pick the electors who selected the president. Then there would be the story of the adoption of Fifteen, Nineteenth, and twenty-sixth Amendments granting the right to vote to freed male slaves, women, and eighteen-year-olds. There would also be the story of the Seventeenth Amendment allowing for direct popular vote of senators, the Twenty Fourth Amendment eliminating the poll tax, and the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, and the 1965 Voting Rights expanding voting rights to Native-Americans and people of color. These amendments and laws, along with Supreme Court cases such as US v. Classic and Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, are part of an election law canon supposedly guaranteeing the right to vote as fundamental.