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The History of Voting: Why Your Vote Matters

If you think that your vote doesn't count, you better think again!

Throughout history people have fought and even died for the right to vote. What many of us take for granted today is the result of a tumultuous history filled with racism and prejudice.

Forty seven years ago, minorities were intimidated at their polling places. Voters with disabilities received special considerations only 30 years ago.

The students of Ange-Marie Hancock, a politics teacher over at University of San Francisco, have created a timeline that features our country's voting history and a compelling list of reasons why your vote really can make a difference:

1787 – 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 requirments 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.

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.

Historical Facts On The Power Of Just One Vote

1776 – One vote gave America the English language instead of German.

1868 – One vote saved President Andrew Jackson from impeachment.

1876 – One vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency of the United States of America.

1941 – One vote saved the Selective Service - just weeks before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

So when you go to the polls this November 6th, remember that voting is a privilege and that your vote really can make a difference. For a complete timeline visit http://www.usfca.edu/fac-staff/hancock/pol204/history.htm.

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