Federal Constitutional Voting Protections

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While the Voting Rights Act addresses specific issues concerning the right to vote, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the protection of the right to vote of certain classes of individual. There are six amendments in the U.S. Constitution which protect voters on the basis of:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Civil rights restored if convicted of a felony offense
  • Cumbersome regulation by states that impede a citizens right to vote
  • Residence

Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that protect voting rights

Thirteenth Amendment

The thirteenth amendment is an amendment that makes it constitutionally legal for states to forbid civil and citizenship rights for crimes committed especially in forbidding convicted felons who are currently serving time in prison (incarceration) and/or under probation or supervision as a convicted felon. Also, this amendment protects citizens who had their civil rights restored by their states in order to vote.[1]

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Fourteenth Amendment

The fourteenth amendment is an amendment that protects voters and their rights from breaches of their rights as electors. This amendment is designed from preventing states from imposing cumbersome restrictions on individual voters and their rights.[2] Article I in the 14th Amendment states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and the state they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.[3]

Fifteenth Amendment

The fifteenth amendment was one of the first amendments designed solely for the purpose of protecting the citizens the right to vote. This amendment is a civil rights amendment that outlaws any State or Municipal authority from prohibiting the right to vote on the basis of race, color or slavery.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.[4]

Nineteenth Amendment

The nineteenth amendment was known in the victory of Women's Suffrage granting people the right to vote regardless of gender.[5]

The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Twenty-Fourth Amendment

The twenty-fourth amendment is an amendment that outlaws the practice of poll taxes or residence tests and therefore gives every citizen in the United States the right to vote for President, U.S. Congress (U.S. House of Representatives), and U.S. Senate. It is up to the individual states in whether voters are granted the right to vote in state and local races including Governor and Lieutenant Governor, State Legislature or State Courts.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.[6]

Twenty-Sixth Amendment

The twenty-sixth amendment is an amendment that grants the legal voting age of eighteen. It is up to the states to determine whether at what age someone can register before their first election when they turn eighteen, but it is illegal under the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to prohibit someone the right to vote if they are 18 years old.

The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.[7]

See also

References