Here’s when women, Native Americans and other groups could vote in the United States

President Joe Biden this week backed a limited exception to the Senate filibuster to pass suffrage legislation, including two bills stalled in the upper house.

“The next few days when these bills pass will mark a turning point in the history of this nation,” Biden said during a speech in Atlanta. “The question is whether we will choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand.”

But when were different groups of Americans able to vote in the United States? When were they promised the right to vote, and when were those promises kept or broken?

Here’s what you need to know when various The Americans could access the voting booth.

When could black people vote in the United States?

In 1870, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, promising that “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 race, color or a prior condition of servitude”. .”

The amendment could have granted black men across the United States the right to vote. But many states implemented literacy tests, poll taxes and other roadblocks, ensuring they did not get their full right to vote.

The amendment meant that a state constitution “which generally involved language that all free white men over the age of 21 could vote, that ‘white’ was no longer legally enforceable,” David Bateman, associate professor at the Department of Government and the Brooks School of Public Policy at Cornell University, USA TODAY told USA TODAY.

But Matthew Dallek, professor of political management at George Washington University, explained “there were also many extra-legal ways to deny the right to vote”, including tactics of violence and intimidation.

“African Americans knew they could face violent retaliation if they went and tried to vote,” Dallek told USA TODAY.

In 1965, the Voting Rights Act prohibited states from using literacy tests and provided sweeping voter protections.

However, the Voting Rights Act did not mark the end of voting rights efforts in the United States, with activists continuing to call on lawmakers to expand voter protections. The Voting Rights Act has also seen sweeping changes, including the Supreme Court striking down some key provisions.

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When could women vote in the United States?

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920. It states that “the right to vote of the citizens of the United States shall not be denied or restricted by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

But in practice, the 19th Amendment did not apply equally to all women. Laws across the country still prevented women of color from voting, and they continued to face intimidation tactics.

Dallek noted that there were areas of the country where women had the right to vote before the 19th Amendment, but the impact of the amendment was mostly “limited to white women”.

“It hasn’t necessarily changed the political dynamics of the country,” he said.

“Relatively few African-American women will be able to vote after the 19th Amendment,” Bateman added.

“Because most of them will be living in the South, and the South has some sort of interlocking and disenfranchisement mechanisms,” he said.

The Suffrage Act of 1965 made significant progress in protecting some women of color, and Congress in 1975 expanded the legislation and included provisions that applied to other groups of women.

When could Native Americans be able to vote in the United States?

The Snyder Act of 1924 “admitted American Indians born in the United States to full American citizenship,” according to the Library of Congress.

But the Constitution still allowed states to decide who could vote, and it took more than 40 years for each state to allow Indigenous peoples to vote.

The additional provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1975 helped people who spoke indigenous languages ​​to vote in the United States.

Today, Native American groups are still pushing for the right to vote and access. Indigenous peoples living on reservations often face additional difficulties in accessing the ballot box.

And the other groups?

Other groups of Americans also faced barriers to voting.

Asian populations across the country have been denied citizenship and the right to vote in the United States for entire swaths of American history. The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 lifted restrictions on Asian immigrants becoming naturalized citizens.

Asian American communities saw greater access to voting following the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and provisions added to legislation protecting “language minorities”.

Additionally, Bateman explained that “there had been widespread disenfranchisement practices” that “disproportionately affected Latinos”, in the United States. These included obstacles such as poll taxes, literacy tests, etc.

But when former President Gerald Ford signed the Voting Rights Act expansion into law in 1975, it provided protections for “language minorities,” a move hailed by Latino civil rights groups, reports NBC News.

Bateman noted that some groups of Latinos in the United States were previously “legally understood” as white, but were still “disenfranchised as a language community, so there were new provisions to protect them.”

In 1971, the United States ratified the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, allowing all citizens 18+ to vote from coast to coast.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: When Could Women Vote? Here’s when different groups got the right to vote

Nohemi M. Moore