Election Issues

So You Think You Can Vote?

The Motivation You Need To Vote This November, Right Here

By RACHEL SELVIN | October12, 2016 | SOURCE: Refinery29 & WeTheVoters.com

Voting hasn't always been a guaranteed right. In fact, it hasn't even been accessible to huge swaths of Americans for very long. Meet civil-rights activist and Alabama native Theresa Burroughs, who as a young woman was routinely turned away from polling stations by officials asking arcane (and illegal) questions about the constitution to discriminate against Black citizens. Thankfully, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, African Americans were finally able to enjoy the freedoms promised by the Fifth Amendment, which extends the right to participate in our democracy to all races. In the 1970's, President Richard Nixon used the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to expand suffrage even further by reducing the voting age from 21 to 18. This change was instrumental in the 2008 and 2012 elections: Without millennial and minority voters, Barack Obama might not have been president — and where would we be without Michelle? 

Despite these expansions of voting rights, the proliferation of voter-ID laws is threatening access to the ballot box for a staggering 21 million voters (that is not a typo). Requiring voters to present government-issued photo identification could disenfranchise a full 11% of the American electorate. The bottom line? Never take your right to vote for granted.

With 50 states, 5 territories, and over 7,000 voting districts, our elections can get pretty chaotic. Click the image below for a quick look at the history of US voting rights, showing how we got here and what obstacles might prevent you from voting.

Find out more at WeTheVoters.com.