1776 --- Declaration of Independence was signed. The right to vote was restricted to property owners --- most of whom were white male protestants 21 years old or older. Origin is unclear.


[11 years later]

1788 --- U.S. Constitution ratified & adopted. There was no agreement on a national voting rights standard, so States were given the power to regulate their own voting laws. In most cases, the 13 States only allowed white male landowners to vote in their State.


[3 years later]

1791 --- The Bill of Rights was ratified which are Amendments 1-10. Specifically, the 10th Amendment "States Rights" says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."


[79 years later]

1870 --- 15th Amendment passed. The right to vote cannot be denied by Federal or State governments based on race. However, some States began to enact measures such as voting taxes and literary tests that restricted the actual ability of African Americans to register to vote. Violence and other intimidation tactics were used.


[50 years later & 133 years after the Constitution was ratified]

1920 --- 19th Amendment passed. Women get the right to vote in Federal and State elections.


[44 years later]

1964 --- 24th Amendment passed. The right to vote in Federal elections cannot be denied for failure to pay any tax.


[1 year later]

1965 --- Voting Rights Act passed. It forbids States from imposing discriminatory restrictions on who can vote and provides mechanisms for the Federal government to enforce its provisions.


[6 years later]

1971 --- 26th Amendment passed. It granted voting rights to 18-year-olds.  


[22 years later]

1993 --- National Voter Registration Act passed. Makes voter registration for eligible citizens available at the Dept of Motor Vehicles, and public assistance and disabilities agencies.


2002 --- Help America Vote Act (HAVA) passed. Requires States to comply with the Federal mandate for provisional ballots, disability access, centralized, computerized voting lists, electronic voting, and requirement that 1st time voters present Voter ID before voting.