The right to vote constitutes an American citizen’s ability to choose or appoint elected officials among a pool of candidates. All elections in the United States are conducted in a periodic setting; voting rights are awarded to all individuals over the age of 18 regardless of political affiliation or activeness in the particular election.
All individuals who run in politics are public officials, meaning the foundation of their role is what constructs democracies. The elected official is chosen by the people to lead and institute policies that benefit society as a whole. Therefore, voting rights are a duty of all American citizens. This privilege, however, is often overlooked because the average citizen fails to see the meaning and history behind the right to vote.
In the United States, all races and women struggled, throughout the course of history, with disenfranchisement and the right to vote. The discriminatory practices were adopted through state laws that placed unjust requirements or stipulations on minority citizens.
States were able to tamper with voting rights because the United States Constitution does not explicitly declare the right to vote. Since America was founded this lack of federal ruling towards voting rights enabled individual states to disenfranchise various races and women voters for generations. As numerous supreme court cases tested these unjust practices, new amendments were formed, such as the 15th which prohibits states from denying the right to vote on account of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
In addition, the Nineteenth Amendment, adopted in 1920, franchised women. It wasn’t until 1965 and the Voting Rights Act, however, where African-Americans were allowed to vote. Understanding the history of voting rights and the struggle that went into obtaining them should be remembered and acknowledged by all American citizens.