Voting Rights in the United States Lesson for Kids: History & Timeline

Instructor: Mark Boster
In the United States, voting is a right everyone should have. However, it wasn't always this way. Some people weren't allowed to vote because of things like their race, gender or age. Are you one of the people who would be allowed to vote, or not?

Voting Fairness

Has your family ever decided that they were going out for dinner, but didn't know where? You may have taken a vote, and the place with the most votes is where you went. What if your vote didn't count and it was only up to your parents where to go? Does that seem right to you? Not much fairness in that, is there. Did you know that in the United States, not all the people who can vote now could have voted when the country was first founded?

Property Owners

As early as 1790, some states had laws that in order to vote, you must own property and be a citizen of the United States. This meant that only white men could vote, because nobody else could own property.


Neither women nor slaves were allowed to vote in 1865 when the 13th amendment to the constitution became law. There was to be no slavery in the United States, but just because slavery had ended didn't mean former slaves could vote yet.

A year later, the Civil Rights Act of 1886 was passed. It that said anybody born in the United States was a citizen, no matter what race or color you were, even people who used to be slaves.

Finally, we seemed to be getting somewhere.

In 1868, the 14th amendment was approved, which says pretty much the same thing as the Civil Rights Act of 1886, but it includes the phrase 'equal protection' under the law. That means the law needs to treat everyone equally.

But even though they were now citizens and were declared equal by the constitution, people of color still weren't allowed to vote in all states.

In 1870, finally, the 15th amendment to the constitution said that nobody could be denied the right to vote because of his or her race or color. So finally everyone was allowed to vote, right? Nope. This still only included men.


In 1848, the first Women's Rights Convention was held to determine how to get women the right to vote. This was called suffrage, and the women who wanted the right to vote were called suffragettes.

In 1875, eleven women were arrested for voting. Over the years, some states began letting women vote, but it wasn't until 1920 that the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote in all of the United States.


Native Americans

Even though the 15th amendment said that all citizens could vote no matter what race or color, many Native Americans still weren't allowed to vote. It wasn't until 1924 that Native Americans finally had a law that said they were full American citizens and had the right to vote. That's pretty odd, given that they were here before the United States even became a country.

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