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Important Dates In Voting History

The passage of the U.S. Constitution giving white male property owners age 21 and over the right to vote.

  • 1807 - 1843 Series of acts that changed voting requirements so that all white men 21 and older could vote.
  • 1870 The 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to all men that were 21 or older regardless of race or ethnic background.
  • 1920 The 19th Amendment gave women age 21 and older the right to vote.
  • 1964 The 24th Amendment made it illegal for states to charge poll tax to voters.
  • 1965 The Voting Rights Act authorized the federal government to take over registration of voters in areas where state officials had regularly prevented blacks and other minorities from registering to vote or cast their ballots through usage of literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and intimidation tactics. This Act enforced provisions previously guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments almost a century earlier.
  • 1971 The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age across the nation to 18.
  • 1982 The Voting Rights Act Amendments extended right to vote guarantees given in the 1965 legislation. Further provisions for Americans with disabilities, voters not able to read and write, and those not fluent in English were added to insure their freedoms.
  • 1993 The National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter) expanded the opportunity for convenient voter registration for every person of voting age by increasing the number of active government agencies serving as registries. The departments of Safety, Health, human Services, Mental Health and Retardation, and Veteran's Affairs are required to include voter registration applications with their own department's forms. Other government offices such as libraries, post offices, county clerk offices, and the Registrar of Deeds will also have voter forms available to the public.
  • 1994 The Tennessee Early Voting Act replaced the previous absentee voting system used for the state. Tennesseans now have a period of 15 days in which to vote early before the actual election day without declaring a reason for this early casting of votes. Voters using this opportunity may vote at their county election office or any one of its satellite locations in that county during their posted hours of operation.