Many people today take their right to vote for granted. That is probably because they are not informed enough on this matter. Many others are confused as whether they can or cannot exercise their right to vote. This is why campaigns for promoting the right to vote and the correct legal information on this matter are very necessary in all states, all across the U.S. as well as in many other parts of the world.
You probably know that in the beginning only white males who owned property could vote. Property owners were thus privileged and got the right to decide for everyone else. In some states there were also religious based restrictions so it was not only necessary to be a white male with a certain amount of property, one had to practice a certain religion as well. Today this form of discrimination is unthinkable and yet it happened less than 200 years ago, right here, in America. The religious requirements for voting lasted until the end of the 18th century.
Then , close to the mid 19th century, a man called Thomas Dorr fought for the right of those who were not property owners to vote as well. He was imprisoned, found guilty of treason and sentenced to hard labor for the rest of his life. Fortunately he was released after only one year.
The end of the Civil War brought the 15th Amendment that gave American citizens the right to vote regardless of their color and race. It was the beginning of important mentalities changes. It took another hundred years before the ones who had been discriminated against actually claimed their right with some success. Many states still conditioned voting on literacy. There were even literacy tests. Racial discrimination continued to happen not only against African Americans but also against Asian Americans and other ethnicities and races.
Martin Luther King had a great contribution in promoting the right to vote for African Americans.
Women’s right to vote was achieved gradually as well. The first woman who was ever allowed to vote in colonial America was Lydia Taft.
Later on the National Women’s Rights convention was organized by women who had previously worked individually in promoting women’s rights. They proved to be more successful working together.
In 1917 the National Woman’s Party was founded. The NWP made great efforts to ensure the passage of an amendment that would grant women the right to vote. World War I was the context in which women would demand that their democratic liberties be respected, including the right to vote. Because each state had a different legislation on the matter, by the time all women in the U.S. got the right to vote, women in Wyoming had been voting for 50 years.
It is puzzling but nevertheless true, that despite the information available in schools and on the internet , there are still large numbers of people unsure of whether or not they can exercise their right to vote.