The Growth Of Enfranchisement
The movement toward universal suffrage can be traced to the advent of Jacksonian democracy in the 1830s. Property qualifications rapidly diminished for white voters by the beginning of the U.S. CIVIL WAR. The end of SLAVERY led, in 1870, to the adoption of the FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT, which theoretically granted the right to vote to African Americans. It was not until the 1960s, however, that this right became a reality.
The NINETEENTH AMENDMENT, ratified in 1920, removed gender as a qualification for voting. The TWENTY-FOURTH AMENDMENT, ratified in 1964, abolished POLL TAXES as prerequisites for voting in federal elections. Finally, the TWENTY-SIXTH AMENDMENT, ratified in 1971, lowered the voting age to 18. These constitutional amendments reveal the slow movement toward universal suffrage, but it would take court decisions as well as federal legislation to ensure that citizens were not denied their constitutional right to vote.
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