Brief History Lesson: American Voter Suppression

By: Loriana London-Calderon

The average American citizen is aware of the fact that once they turn 18-years-old they are legally allowed to vote in any local, state, or federal election. But do you know the history behind how that right came to be or even about the measures put into place to currently prevent people from voting? Let's take a trip down America's memory lane and see.


Founding Fathers wrote into the constitution that state/local elections are allowed to regulate themselves, but the federal government reserves the right to change that as they see fit.


All white men could vote and only 5 out of 16 states had white-only voting


All Black people were banned from voting.


New Jersey passed a law that gave the right to vote to "all inhabitants" and proceeded to disenfranchise all women and Black men.


Maryland passed legislation that banned Jewish citizens from voting.


The Civil War came to an end, a four-year war.


The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were passed, stating: slavery was illegal unless it was used as a punishment, citizens are people who are born or naturalized here, and people are not to be denied the right to vote based on sex, race or social standing.

This led to a rise of Black voters and representation in government during reconstruction, which upset many white Southerners. In 1870 Mississippi elects their first Black senator, Hiram Rhodes Revels. This led to a Black majority within the Republican party.


Mississippi Democrats begin campaigns of terror on the polls to intimidate Black voters, by 1881 they regained majority control.


The Democrats admit to these tactics and ask for more recommendations on how to keep it up.

This led to the creation of Jim Crowe, poll taxes, and literacy tests. In a 5-year period, they rendered 84% of eligible Black voters ineligible.

It would not be until the 1960s when this would change when major protests against voter suppression sparked. There would be a push for younger voting and equal voting. States like Georgia, Kentucky, Hawaii, and Alaska already lowered their voting ages. At this time 18-year-olds were old enough to be drafted but not old enough to vote.

1964 & 1965

The civil rights act and the voting rights act were passed giving the right to vote to any eligible adult 18-years or older. They also prevented racist voter suppression tactics to be enacted due to federal surveillance.


Supreme Court rollbacked Federal supervision of state and local elections which is how proof of identification tactics are still in place.


Texas passes a policy that bars you from registering for absentee or mail-in-voting if you are under the age of 65.

Voting not only is a constitutional right, it is the right to make your voice heard and implement policies you feel will best help your community. If you hate the current representation, then #VOTETHEMOUT.

Click the link to check your current voter registration.

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