United States election laws were established in the First Article of the Constitution in 1789. Voting was initially restricted mostly to white, property-owning men. Subsequent laws and constitutional amendments expanded voting rights, sometimes with strong resistance from local and state lawmakers who imposed poll taxes, literacy tests, and other obstacles to suppress votes, often from African Americans. Below are some landmark legislative and legal cases in the history of U.S. voting.
1790: the Naturalization Act permits white men born outside of the Unites States to vote.
1792-1856: The gradual abolition of property qualifications expands the vote to non-property owners.
1868: The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing citizenship to all people naturalized or born in the United States paves the way for later voting rights legislation.
1870: The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees the right to vote for non-white men and freed slaves, but would be undermined in many states during the Jim Crow era.
1920: The Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote.
1965: The Voting Rights Act is passed, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting and focuses largely on regulating state and local election practices.
1966: The Supreme Court struck down poll taxes for voting in state elections.
1971: The Twenty-Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to vote to eligible voters 18 years or older.
1986: The Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act expands the vote to citizens living overseas and on military bases or ships.