The Fight to Vote
thenation.com — The American experiment began on an exclusive note: only white male property owners who paid taxes, met religious prerequisites, and were 21 or older were allowed to vote. The next 200 years saw a fight over the franchise that pitted progress (elimination of religious tests and property requirements, passage of the Fifteenth Amendment) against reaction (Jim Crow literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses). It was only in the twentieth century that Native Americans, African-Americans, women and 18-year-olds were accorded the place in the democratic process that should have been theirs at the founding of the Republic. What is so alarming about voting in the twenty-first century is that the forces of reaction are again on the march. Unsettled by their inability to “manage” an expanded and changing electorate, the corporations that fund the American Legislative Exchange Council and other right-wing groups are waging a war on voting.