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048 There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote.

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C: Rights and Responsibilities

48. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote.
Describe one of them.
Answer:
• Citizens eighteen (18) and older (can vote).
• You don’t have to pay (a poll tax) to vote.
• Any citizen can vote. (Women and men can vote.)
• A male citizen of any race (can vote).

Explanation:
Voting is one of the important rights (or freedoms) that Americans have, but not everyone can vote. The Constitution, which is the most important legal document in the United States, has 27 amendments (or changes or additions to the Constitution that have been approved by the voters). Four of these amendments are about who can vote. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.

The 15th Amendment was passed (or approved) in 1870. It forbids (or doesn’t allow) the government to use race (or skin color) in deciding who is eligible (or has the right) to vote. Before this amendment was passed, many states did not allow black or African American people to vote in their elections. The 15th Amendment made that illegal (or against the law).

The next amendment related to voting was the 19th Amendment, passed in 1920. This amendment forbids the government to use gender (or whether someone is a man or a woman) in deciding who is eligible to vote. Before this amendment was passed, only men could vote. This amendment gave women the right to vote.

In 1964, the 24th Amendment was passed. It prohibits (or doesn’t allow) the government to make people pay money to vote. Before 1964, some states had
made voters pay a tax (or money paid to the government) to cast their ballot (or vote). This made it very difficult or impossible for poor people to vote and that is why it was made illegal.

The fourth and final (or last) amendment related to voting was the 26th Amendment passed in 1971. This amendment grants (or gives) suffrage (or the right to vote) to American citizens who are at least 18 years old. Before this amendment was passed, many states would let people vote only if they were at least 21 years old. Many people thought that this was unfair, since young men could join the army when they were 18, dying for their country before they were able to vote. With this amendment, however, American citizens can begin voting once they are 18 years old.

Glossary

amendment – a change or addition, especially to the U.S. Constitution
* Which amendment to the Constitution allowed non-whites to vote?

to forbid – to prohibit; to not allow something; to make something illegal or unacceptable
* Her parents forbid her from seeing that boy again because they think he’s a bad influence on her.

race – a person's skin color or ethnic background
* Have you ever dated someone outside of your own race?

eligible – meeting the requirements to do something; allowed to do something because one meets all of the requirements
* Jenna isn't eligible for some scholarship programs because her parents have too much money.

gender – sex; whether someone is a man or a woman
* Many people show babies' gender by dressing boys in blue and girls in pink.

to prohibit – to forbid; to not allow something; to make something illegal or unacceptable
* Customers are prohibited from using the store's bathroom.

to cast (one's) ballot – to vote; to complete a ballot and give it to the officials
* Who did you cast your ballot for in the last election?

suffrage – the right to vote; the freedom to be allowed to vote
* Who is the most famous person who fought for women's suffrage in the United States?