Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that protect voting rights


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Fourteenth Amendment

According to the National Constitution Center, the Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to limit restrictions on voting rights that place a “severe burden” on voters.[1] To learn more about voting rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, click here.

Article I in the 14th Amendment states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and the state they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.[2]

Fifteenth Amendment

The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited any state or municipal authority from denying the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous status as a slave.

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.[3]

Nineteenth Amendment

The Nineteenth Amendment granted citizens the right to vote regardless of gender.[4]

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 sex.

Twenty-Fourth Amendment

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment prohibited the use of poll taxes in federal elections, but permitted them in state and local elections. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that poll taxes in state and local elections were also unconstitutional because they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[5]

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.[6]

Twenty-Sixth Amendment

The Twenty-Sixth Amendment set the legal voting age at eighteen. The amendment left open how old someone must be in order to register to vote. While some states require people to be eighteen in order to register, others allow sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds to pre-register.[7]

The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.[8]

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Federal Constitutional Voting Protections

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While the Voting Rights Act addresses specific issues concerning the right to vote, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the protection of the right to vote of certain classes of individual. There are five amendments in the U.S. Constitution which protect voting rights: