Declaration of Independence is signed.

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In The Federalist Papers, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay thoroughly analyzed the election process.

Experiment of self-government

U.S. Constitution ratified. Article I, Section 4 gives the states wide discretion regarding election laws and the right to vote.

Originally, most state voting laws required voters to be white, male, over 21, and own property. Over time, states like New York allowed free Blacks to vote and the requirement to own property is rescinded in all the states.

New Jersey allows women and free Blacks to vote until 1807.

Amending its Constitution, Pennsylvania denies free Blacks the right to vote.

15th Amendment prohibits denial of the right to vote based on race or color.

Descendant of the Hemings family Coralie Franklin Cook was an active suffragist and founding member of the National Association of Colored Women.

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“Jim Crow” laws circumvent the 15th Amendment. Led by the former Confederate States, many states enact a host of poll taxes, literacy “tests ” and complex filing requirements to disenfranchise people of color and, in some states, poor whites.

Descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings Frederick Madison Roberts is elected to the California State Assembly.

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19th Amendment gives women the right to vote.

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The Snyder Act provides Native Americans full voting rights.

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Magnuson Act grants Chinese Americans the right to vote, overturning the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

23rd Amendment ratified, making voters in the District of Columbia eligible to vote in Federal Elections.

24th Amendment ratified, prohibiting denial of the right to vote in Federal elections by failure to pay a poll tax or any other tax.

March 7th, Bloody Sunday: The unprovoked attack by Alabama law enforcement officers on voting rights activists in Selma, Alabama prompts President Johnson to demand that Congress pass the Voting Rights Act.

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Voting Rights Act of 1965 (extended and amended in 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992 and 2006) makes discriminatory voting practices illegal. Considered one of the most far-reaching civil rights laws, its provisions to end government-sponsored denial of voting rights because of race have been challenged ever since.

Harper vs. The Virginia State Board of Elections: The U.S. Supreme Court rules the 14th Amendment prohibits poll taxes in state elections.

26th Amendment ratified, setting the voting age at 18.

Bush vs. Gore: the first time the Supreme Court intervenes to settle a Presidential Election dispute.

Shelby County vs. Holder and Brnovich vs. Democratic National Committee: U.S. Supreme Court weakens key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Following these decisions, many States have enacted new voting rules that make it more challenging to vote. Several Congressional bills to update and strengthen the 1965 Voting Rights Act have been introduced; to date, none of these bills have passed.

Presidential Election sparks conversations about how elections are conducted in America, spurring new regulations, processes, and laws during the COVID-19 pandemic and reigniting the debate over state and federal voting laws.