Voting Rights: The Fight Continues Today

Throughout our history, Americans have fought and died for the right to vote. And while we've made significant progress, even today there are those who seek to limit voting rights. In 2013 alone, 11 Republican-controlled states have taken action to limit people's Constitutional right to vote. But as Democrats, we're not backing down and will continue to fight to expand access to the polls for every eligible voter.

Scroll down to follow the history of voting rights in our country, see what's happening today, see how Democrats are fighting back, and most importantly, how you can get involved.

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It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition.

Abraham Lincoln,

April 12, 1861 — May 10, 1865: The Civil War

The end of the Civil War not only abolished slavery, but started the movement to give all American citizens — regardless of race — the right to vote.

Reconstruction and the 15th Amendment

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.

Women's Suffrage

For America’s women, securing the right to vote was a long, hard-fought struggle. Their peaceful protests were met with jail time, ridicule and social exile. In jail, they were often tortured, beaten, and forced to live in inhumane conditions. But their efforts were not in vain.

Victory through the 19th Amendment

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 sex.

The Civil Rights Movement

While the Constitution guarantees equal rights for every American citizen, through the 1960s some states continued to employ discriminatory voter suppression tactics to keep African-Americans from the polls. These efforts were met by protests — including “Bloody Sunday,” when 500 activists marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, only to be met at the Edmund Pettus bridge by state and local police who attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas, all because they peacefully demanded the right to vote.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Historic Voting Rights Act

In response to states passing discriminatory laws aimed at disenfranchising voters, Congress passed and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act provides a variety of protections and required states with a history of discrimination to acquire federal approval before making any changes to their voting laws.

A Setback for Voting Rights — June 25, 2013

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act — eliminating the formula used to identify states with a history of voting discrimination and disenfranchisement. Congress now has the opportunity fix the formula and reinstate the act. As Democrats, we will pursue every avenue — legal, political and through grassroots advocacy — to fix the Voting Rights Act.