Why Vote, Part 2

Not long ago, citizens in some states had to pay a fee to vote in an election. This fee was called a poll tax. On January 23, 1964, the United States ratified the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting any poll tax in elections for federal officials.  You may wonder what is a poll tax?  To keep poor people and African Americans from voting many states established poll taxes and voting literacy tests.  Poll tax-is money paid to vote.  This tax stopped poor people from voting.  It started in the 1890s as a legal way to keep African Americans from voting in southern states, poll taxes were essentially a voting fee. Eligible voters were required to pay their poll tax before they could cast a ballot.  Even if they could pay the poll tax African Americans had to pass a literacy test in order to vote. Literacy tests that were impossible for uneducated African Americans to pass and therefore they couldn’t vote.  (example question-draw 5 circles that have one common interlocking point.)

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to -overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Most people think of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  and his sacrifice for the rights of all citizens to vote.

But did all adult citizens get the right to vote?  NO!  It took another amendment for that to happen.  During the Vietnam war men as young as 18 years old were sent to war. They could fight for our country but couldn’t vote for the officials who made war declarations.  That’s when the Twenty-Six amendment was added to the Constitution in 1971.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment (Amendment XXVI) to the United States Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from using age as a reason for denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States who are at least eighteen years old.

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