The 14th Amendment (1868) granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the US including former slaves. The 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and established due process under the law.
The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870, giving voting rights to all African-American men. However, race discrimination persisted through poll taxes, literacy tests and other means. Most African-Americans remained disenfranchised in the south for nearly 100 years, until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"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." -15th Amendment to the US Constitution
The 19th Amendment extended voting rights to women in 1920
The 26th Amendment guarantees the right to vote to 18-year-olds.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally exercised the 15th Amendment to its full extent by making poll taxes and literacy tests illegal. It placed the Department of Justice in charge of enforcing these important laws.
"No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." -Voting Rights Act of 1965
Qualifications to register to vote:
- Be a United States citizen
- Be 18 years old by December 31 of the year in which you file this form (note: you must be 18 years old by the date of the general, primary or other election in which you want to vote)
- Live at your present address at least 30 days before an election
- Not be in jail or on parole for a felony conviction
- Not claim the right to vote elsewhere
How and where to register to vote
- You can register in person at your county board of elections or at any New York State agency-based voter registration center.
- You can enter your name directly into NYS Elections mailing list database to have a New York State Voter Registration Form mailed to you. (NOTE: The same form can be downloaded, using the link below.)
- You can call 1-800-FOR-VOTE hotline to request a voter application.
- You can download a PDF version of the New York State Voter Registration Form
For more information visit: www.elections.state.ny.us.