Voting Rights Amendments of the US Constitution

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  • 0:01 Definition of Terms
  • 0:56 15th Amendment
  • 1:29 19th Amendment
  • 1:55 24th Amendment
  • 2:22 26th Amendment
  • 3:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will explore the 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments of the United States Constitution. In doing so, it will define the term 'amendments' while also discussing how each of these changed the vote within America.

Definition of Terms

Although it occurred decades ago, I remember the first time I voted in a presidential election. I recall being awed by the power of the vote. The fact that I had a part in such an important process took my breath away. It was and still is a huge deal for me! In today's lesson, we'll take a look at the constitutional amendments which have bestowed this amazing right.

To begin, an amendment is basically a modification to the Constitution. Adding to this, an amendment is ratified when it's signed and made official. At present, there are 27 amendments to the United States Constitution. When discussing the right to vote, Amendments 15, 19, 24, and 26 are usually highlighted. Since there are so many, we'll work to come up with some little ditties to remember each.

We'll start with the 15th.

15th Amendment

The 15th Amendment gave the right to vote to any male, regardless of race, color, or belief.

Being ratified after the Civil War, the amendment opened up the vote to African Americans. Whether or not they had been slaves no longer mattered. As a man, they were free to vote. Sadly, passing the 15th Amendment was a difficult fight, but in 1870, it became official. Working to keep our amendments straight, Amendment 5 plus 10, said, 'Yes!' to all men.

19th Amendment

Now notice, Amendment 15 gave the vote to men, not women. To remedy this, we have the 19th Amendment. This one gave women the right to vote. Coming to fruition in 1920, it took about a 50-year fight. It also took some serious work from suffragettes, the women who fought for the vote. With their sweat and tears, #19 put women on the scene!

24th Amendment

Quite unfortunately, not everyone was thrilled when African Americans and women got the right to vote. For this reason, some states started charging a tax or fee to vote.

Known as a poll tax, the nasty hope was that these fees would make it difficult for certain people groups to vote. Fortunately, these poll taxes were made illegal by the 24th Amendment. Ratified in 1964, #24 said, 'Pay no more!'

26th Amendment

This brings us to the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Becoming official in 1971, the 26th Amendment changed the federal voting age to 18.

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