It started with our Founding Fathers, most likely in 1776, when the U.S. Declaration of Independence was singed, and it continues today, 245 years later.
Voting was limited to only white men who owned property and was not available to all white men till 1856. Some states of the union employed religious tests to ensure that only Christian men could only vote.
Later, other barriers to vote included poll taxes and literary tests, basically to reduce voting among African-American men.
Women’s right to vote did not take place until the 19th Amendment was signed in 1920. English language requirements were being implemented.
In 1964, there was abolishment of the poll taxes as unconstitutional in any U.S. election per the 24th Amendment. Native Americans did not become U.S. citizens till 1924, per the Snyder Act, and were not allowed to vote nationwide till 1965, per the Voting Rights Act passed by Congress.
In 1971, the 26th Amendment allowed the new voting age to change from 21 to 18. In 1975, the Voting Rights Act expanded to protect language minorities.
In 1982, Congress required new voting protections for people with disabilities.
In 1993, the National Voter Registration Act was enacted to allow citizens to register to vote when they applied for their driver’s licenses. It also offered mail-in registration with offices offering public assistance.
In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which replaced outdated voting equipment. It created statewide voter registration lists and provided provisional ballots if their names were not on the roll of registered voters.
It allowed people with disabilities to cast private independent ballots.
With all these changes in allowing all citizens to vote as their legal right to do so, we still have some states who want to provide other restrictions for voting. It appears to be states that have a majority of Republican representatives in the House of Representatives, the Senate and a Republican governor.
The apparent reason for this is because the 45th Republican president lost the 2020 presidential election. It has been reported by some organizations that it is intended to restrict voting to African-American Voters.
You might ask the question why we are finding ways to restrict voting for any citizens in our national elections. We as citizens have a patriotic civic duty to vote in any election that has reasonable and fair access to vote without any kind of intimidations or unreasonable restrictions.
Just some of the changes that are being considered or have already been passed are new voter identification requirements, limiting mail-in voting, changing early voting dates and perhaps less voting hours on Election Day.
As we go further on this issue, Congress is considering a law providing basic voting guidelines or rules that every state must follow in all national elections. This is perhaps necessary for the voting public in believing that each and every state of the union is following what is needed to ensure we have a fair and secured election.
It’s unfortunate that we as a constitutional democratic republic are still struggling with the basic rights to vote.
Thomas E. Carter