Presentation on theme: "Celebrate freedom Week. Voting Rights Establishing voting qualifications was a job left primarily to the states at the Constitutional Convention of 1787."— Presentation transcript:
Establishing voting qualifications was a job left primarily to the states at the Constitutional Convention of 1787
This decision resulted in discrimination against specific groups at various times in our history, requiring Amendments to the Constitution and further action (Court decisions/legislation) by the national government to ensure voting rights.
Current qualifications… 18+ (age) resident of state/county (residency) citizen (citizenship) registration 30 days prior to election (registration)
Voting is NOT an absolute civil right (guaranteed to all persons); it is a qualified right, a privilege extended to those who meet the qualifications of the law.
History of suffrage (right to vote) By 1800, most white, male, property owners could vote. By the time of the Civil War, property ownership was no longer a requirement in most states.
Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857 Supreme Court ruled that neither the states nor the national government had the power to confer citizenship on African Americans – slave or free. Denied citizenship to slaves/former slaves.
Reconstruction Amendments 13 th Amendment – abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (except as punishment for crime) 14 th Amendment (1868) – defined citizenship as being born or naturalized; allowed former slaves to be designated citizens via birth or naturalization (negated the Dred Scott decision)
Reconstruction Amendments continued… 15 th Amendment (1870) voting could not be denied on the basis of race.
Some states continued to discriminate by enforcing the following types of requirements: literacy tests (tests ability to read/write; when fairly applied, discriminated against all illiterates; often applied unfairly to African Americans) BY TH’ WAY, WHAT’S THAT BIG WORD?"
poll tax – tax on registering to vote all-white primaries – party elections in the one-party Democratic South (excluded African-Americans from participation)
More on discrimination in voting… lengthy or complicated registration procedures grandfather clauses – laws that allowed a person to bypass the above exemptions if their fathers or grandfathers had voted prior to 1870 (thus exempting whites, but not blacks) racial gerrymandering – drawing of congressional and legislative district lines to weaken minority voting strength
Efforts to end discrimination in voting: A.Constitutional Amendments: A.19 th Amendment – gave women the right to vote (proposed 1919, ratified 1920) B.23 rd Amendment – gave Washington, D.C. three electoral votes (Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, has a predominantly African- American population) (proposed 1961, ratified 1962) C. 24 th Amendment – outlawed poll taxes in federal elections (proposed 1962, ratified 1964) D. 26 th Amendment – gave the right to vote to 18 yr. olds
More efforts to end discrimination in voting… B. Court cases: a. outlawed grandfather clauses in 1915 b. finally outlawed the white primary in 1944 in Smith v. Allwright after over a decade of court battles c. Court ruled against racial gerrymandering in Gomillion v. Lightfoot, 1960 d. outlawed use of poll taxes in all elections in 1966 (Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections)
e. upheld the Voting Rights Act provisions that outlawed literacy tests in 1970 (Oregon v. Mitchell) C. Legislation: a. Civil Rights Act of 1964 – forbade the use of discriminatory registration practices (also addressed forms of discrimination other than voting)
b. Voting Rights Act of 1965 –outlawed remaining poll taxes (state elections) –suspended use of literacy tests in selected states –appointed voting examiners to serve in states/counties with past history of discrimination –instituted “preclearance” provisions for new state laws affecting voting/elections in states with past history of discrimination c. Voting Rights Act of 1970 –extended to more states –prohibited residency requirements in excess of 30 days for voting in federal elections (states have now basically accepted that standard for all elections) - outlawed use of literacy tests for 5 years http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ2j8zSxPgU&fea ture=related
d. Voting Rights Act of 1975 –literacy test ban made permanent –preclearance provisions broadened –ballot language requirement in any state or county where more than 5% of the voting-age population belongs to certain minority languages (Texas – printing ballot in Spanish as well as English) –extended coverage of the law to more states, including Texas e. Voting Rights Act of 1982 - extended previous provisions for another 25 years
Summary conclusions: Legislation, Supreme Court decisions and constitutional amendments have made our government more (more? less?) democratic over time, extending the privilege of voting to more groups. Was the right to vote, as it is today, an automatic process initiated at the beginning of our government or was it a hard- fought battle over time? The decade that was a key turning point for civil rights and political rights in this country was the 1960s.