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Voter Requirements & Civil Rights Ch. 6 S. 1-3

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1 Voter Requirements & Civil Rights Ch. 6 S. 1-3

2 The History of Voting Rights
Today, the size of the American electorate is greater than 200 million people. Nearly all citizens at least 18 years of age can qualify to vote. Early 1800’s Religious, property, & tax payment requirements are eliminated 1870 15th Amendment bans (in theory) race-based voting requirements 1920 19th Amendment bans the denial of the right to vote based on sex 1961 23rd Amendment grants citizens of DC the right to vote for president 1965 Voting Rights Act of 1965 guarantees right to vote for minorities 1964 The 24th Amendment eliminates the poll tax. 1971 The 26th Amendment lowers the voting age to 18.

3 Election Laws in the States
The Framers allowed the states to determine voter requirements and did not create federal restrictions. Eventually, restrictions have been added to protect people’s civil rights. The States cannot violate federal law in setting suffrage qualifications. They can, however, set qualifications that are not listed in the Constitution.

4 Prisoners, parolees and probationers
Probationers & parolees Probationers only All with felonies can vote upon completing their sentence Only some with felonies can vote No felons can vote

5 Voter Qualifications Key Terms Key Concepts
Transients = people who don’t plan on staying in the state long enough to become a legal resident Registration = procedure designed to prevent voting by people who are not eligible; voters must register before they are allowed to vote. Purging = eliminating people from the voter registry who are no longer eligible to vote (e.g. dead, felon) Poll book = copy of voter registry for a precinct Literacy = ability to read and write Poll tax = special tax required to vote; used to prevent minorities from voting because they could not pay Key Concepts To vote, people must meet certain requirements All states except ND require voter registration Voter registration in the US is voluntary

6 Universal Voter Qualifications
Citizenship is required in all states, but this is not mandated by the Constitution Residence in the state is required College students living ‘away’ can sometimes vote in their college towns instead of having to go home or get absentee ballots Age Voters 18 or over must be allowed to vote States could allow those under 18 to vote Still, most people don’t vote

7 Historical Voter Qualifications
Literacy & Poll Tax Historically, used to keep minorities (esp. African-Americans) from voting Literacy: Sometimes required that voters be able to read; others required reading AND writing Grandfather clauses created to allow illiterate whites to vote Requirement banned by Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970; ban confirmed by Oregon v. Mitchell Poll Tax Used to disenfranchise African-Americans; gradually eliminated by 1960’s, banned by 24th Amendment


9 Current Voter Qualifications
Registration 49 states (except ND) require registration Lists are reviewed and purged periodically Criticism of registration requirement: Voter turnout decreased when registration became mandatory Can discourage the poor and uneducated from voting Deadlines Some states allow same-day registration (register to vote and vote on the same day) Most states have cut-offs (20-30 days before election)

10 Other Voter Qualifications
Registration (continued) Motor Voter Law (1995) Requires that all citizens be allowed to register or make changes when applying for a driver’s license Allows voter registration by mail Requires that forms be available at government offices Miscellaneous Qualifications Mental ‘fitness’ – people in mental institutions generally can’t vote Clean criminal record – many states ban felons from voting Military discharge – some states ban those who are dishonorably discharged from voting

11 Suffrage & Civil Rights
Key Terms Gerrymandering = Drawing electoral district boundaries in a way that limits the power of certain voter groups (e.g. minorities) Injunction = A court order that either forces or limits the performance of an act by an individual or public official Preclearance = approval by Justice Department of any new election laws Key Concepts 15th amendment (1870) was not fully enforced until 1965 States found ways of getting around it until Civil Rights legislation was passed in 1950s-1970s.

12 Major Civil Rights Legislation
Civil Rights Act of 1957 Allowed the federal government (through Federal Courts) to help prevent voter discrimination Civil Rights Act of 1960 Created a federal office that helped correct conditions that caused voter discrimination Civil Rights Act of 1964 Banned the use of literacy tests and voter registration requirements to discriminate against any voters

13 Major Civil Rights Legislation
Voting Rights Act of 1965 Made the 15th Amendment applicable to ALL elections Banned poll taxes and literacy tests for 5 years Required that any further election laws in states where most people had not voted in 1964 get preclearance from the Justice Department Location of polling places District boundaries Deadlines for voter registration Amendments to the VRA of 1965 Extended VRA Act to more states (1970) Made ban on literacy tests permanent (1975) Required that ballot materials be printed in multiple languages, where deemed necessary.


15 Gerrymandering & White Primaries
Named after Eldbridge Gerry ( ), governor of Massachusetts Gerry signed a bill in 1812 that changed districts in his state to benefit his party Used to break up certain voting groups in a city/county to diminish their voting strength.


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