Hello! I’m Beth, former editor of Memory Makers magazine, and I’ll be sharing genealogy-related information with you while Diane Haddad heads out on maternity leave until mid-January.
As you head to the polls to cast your vote today (unless you voted early, like me), it’s a great time to appreciate your right as an American citizen. Not every American has had this privilege available in his or her lifetime.
Here’s a quick look at the US voting timeline:
1789: Constitution empowers states to set voting rights; most enfranchise only male property owners age 21 and older
1830s: Property requirements begin to ease
1848: Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, launches suffrage movement
1870: 15th Amendment extends voting rights to African-American men
1890: Wyoming allows women to vote
1920: 19th Amendment grants women’s suffrage
1940: American Indians are recognized as citizens, although not all are allowed to vote until 1947
1964: 24th Amendment prohibits poll taxes
1965: Voting Rights Act protects minority voters
1971: 26th Amendment lowers voting age to 18
For more interesting tidbits on the history of US voting, see this article on FamilyTreeMagazine.com.
Wondering if your ancestors declared their political leanings?
- Check with your ancestor’s county board of elections, local library, town hall or historical society for information on old voter registration records in the area.
- The Family History Library (FHL) may have town or county lists of registered voters or those who paid poll taxes. Search your ancestral state archives website for voting, and try running a keyword search of the FHL online catalog on the town, county or state name and the word voting.
- Subscription website Ancestry.com has some voting-related records and digitized books, so if you’re a member, run the same search of its online catalog.
- Kimberly Powell recommends additional voter registration record resources on her genealogy blog.
Be sure your voice is among the 90 million Americans expected to cast their vote today!