MILESTONES IN VOTING HISTORY
July 2, 1776
The New Jersey state constitution allows “all inhabitants . . . who
are worth fifty pounds” to vote, including women and people of color.
In 1807 the requirement is rewritten to specify only white men.
August 6, 1787
The Constitutional Convention finishes writing the U.S. Constitution.
February 4, 1789
George Washington is elected first president of the United States by the
Electoral College, with all sixty-nine electoral votes.
January 1, 1790
Ten states have property requirements for voting (Connecticut, Delaware,
Rhode Island, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts,
and South Carolina).
December 3, 1800
Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tie for president in the Electoral College.
With no provisions existing for this situation, the House of Representatives
votes for the president, electing Jefferson on February 17, 1801.
June 15, 1804
The Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, requiring separate
Electoral College voting for president and vice president, and reducing from
five to three the number of candidates from which the Electoral College can
November 10, 1821
New York State ratifies its second constitution. Property requirements are
dropped for whites, but “men of color” must have for one year
“seized and possessed” a freehold over the value of $250.
July 19-21, 1848
The first Woman’s Rights Convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York.
The goal of women’s suffrage is first expressed in Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s
Declaration of Sentiments, basing its text on the Declaration of Independence.
March 6 1857
Dred Scott v. Sanford: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that Dred Scott, a slave
brought to a free state by his master, remain a slave.
September 22, 1862
Abraham Lincoln, as commander-in-chief, issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
December 6, 1865
The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, abolishing
slavery in the United States.
April 9, 1866
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is passed, declaring that all persons born in
the United States are now citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous
condition of servitude.
March 23, 1867
The Reconstruction Act of 1867 is passed, dividing former Confederate States
into five military districts which would not be readmitted into the Union
until they a) enacted state constitutions with African Americans given the
right to vote and b) ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
July 9, 1868
The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, establishing
citizenship and ensuring equal protection under the law.
May 22, 1869
National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) is formed in New York City with
Elizabeth Cady Stanton as its first president.
May 27, 1869
The American Woman Suffrage Association is formed in Boston by Lucy Stone,
Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe. The AWSA and the NWSA join in 1890.
February 3, 1870
The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, declaring
that citizens cannot be denied the right to vote based on “race, color,
or previous condition of servitude.”
February 25, 1870
Mississippi Republican Hiram Revels becomes the first African American to
be elected a U. S. Senator.
February 28, 1871
The Enforcement Act is passed, providing criminal penalties for interfering
with suffrage under the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
November 5, 1872
Susan B. Anthony and eleven other women are arrested in Rochester, New York,
for voting in the presidential election.
May 10, 1872
Victoria Woodhull becomes the first woman to run for president.
March 1, 1875
The Civil Rights Act is approved by the U. S. Congress. It banned racial
discrimination in hotels, theaters, public transportation, and jury selection.
The Act is nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1883.
March 5, 1875
Mississippi Republican Blanche K. Bruce, son of a slave mother and a white
planter, becomes the first African American elected to the U. S. Senate to
serve a full term, 1875 to 1881.
March 2, 1877
The Electoral College declares Republican Rutherford B. Hayes the President
of the United States over Democrat Samuel Tilden, thus deciding the 1876 election.
May 6, 1882
First Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese laborers from entering
the United States, restricted the number and type of other Chinese from entering
the country, and barred Chinese immigrants from becoming citizens through
naturalization. It was renewed on May 5, 1892, and April 29, 1902.
November 3, 1884
The U. S. Supreme Court rules in Elk v. Wilkins that Native Americans, although
born in the United States, were not wholly subject to the jurisdiction of
the United States government, and therefore were not protected by the Fourteenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
April 4, 1887
Susanna Medora Salter is the first woman elected mayor of a town in the United
July 10, 1890
Wyoming becomes the first state to grant women full suffrage rights.
April 12, 1892
The Meyers Voting Machine, the first mechanical-lever voting machine, is
introduced in elections at Lockport, New York. The machine was designed to
prevent voter fraud.
May 8, 1906
The Burke Act is passed by the U. S. Congress, granting citizenship to Native
Americans who were allotted land through the Dawes Act.
March 13, 1913
The North American Women Suffrage Association leads the Women’s Suffrage
Parade in Washington, D. C. Over 6,000 participate.
April 8, 1913
The Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, setting the
number of Senators of the U. S. Senate at two from each state, elected by
popular vote instead of selected by state legislatures.
October 23, 1915
Twenty-five thousand women march in New York City for the right to vote.
November 7, 1916
Jeannette Rankin, Republican-Montana, is the first woman elected to Congress.
January 10, 1917
Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party begin picketing the White
House. Picketing would end in November 1917 after New York State granted women
full suffrage rights.
November 6, 1917
North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Michigan, New York,
and Arkansas all grant women suffrage.
November 4, 1919
New York State voters pass an amendment to the state constitution allowing
for absentee voting.
February 14-16, 1920
League of Women Voters is founded, with Maud Wood Park elected as president.
August 19, 1920
The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing
suffrage for women.
November 13, 1922
Supreme Court rules, in Takao Ozawa v. United States, that people of Japanese
heritage are not eligible to become naturalized citizens.
June 2, 1924
The Snyder Act, or Indian Citizenship Act, grants Native Americans the full
rights of citizenship of the United States without having to give up their
tribal affiliations. However, many western states restrict voting by Native
November 4, 1924
Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming and Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson of
Texas, are the first women elected as state governors.
July 12, 1932
Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas becomes the first woman elected to the
U.S. Senate in a special election to succeed her deceased husband.
January 1, 1938
Reform New York City Charter goes into effect, abolishing the Board of Aldermen
and establishing the City Council.
December 17, 1943
Chinese Exclusion Act is repealed, making people of Chinese ancestry eligible
for U.S. citizenship.
June 30, 1952
Walter-McCarran Act grants all people of Asian ancestry the right to become
citizens. However, the act sets restrictions on the number who can immigrate.
December 31, 1953
Hulan Jack sworn in as Manhattan Borough President, the first African American
to serve in that position.
November 7, 1956
Dalip Singh Saund, a Democrat from Riverside County, California, is the first
South Asian to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
September 9, 1957
Civil Rights Act is passed, permitting the federal government to sue on
behalf of citizens and creating the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
August 22, 1959
Republican Hiram Fong is the first person of Chinese descent to be elected
to the U.S. Senate.
April 16-17, 1960
Ella Baker, a longtime civil rights activist, invites students involved
in sit-ins to a conference in Raleigh, NC. The group organizes the Student
Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
March 29, 1961
The Twenty-third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, granting
Washington, D. C. residents the right to vote in U.S. Presidential elections
for the first time.
June 12, 1963
Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers is assassinated by a white supremacist
in Jackson, Mississippi.
August 28, 1963
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brings 250,000 Americans to the
capital, setting in motion the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Rev.
Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
January 23, 1964
The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, ensuring
that the right to vote in all federal elections cannot be taken away by the
United States or any states due to failure to pay any poll or other tax.
June 21, 1964
Mississippi Freedom Summer Volunteers Michael Schwerner, a Columbia University
graduate student, James Chaney, a young Mississippi activist, and Andrew Goodman,
a student at Queens College, CUNY are murdered by the Ku Klux Klan after investigating
a church burning.
July 2, 1964
Major federal Omnibus Civil Rights Act is passed, making it illegal to discriminate
based on race, religion, or gender in places and businesses that served the
August 22, 1964
Fannie Lou Hamer, Chairwoman of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic
Party, gives testimony to the Democratic Party National Convention in Atlantic
City, NJ. She unsuccessfully demanded that the MFDP be seated as the Mississippi
delegation in place of the racist all-white delegation. She asked on national
television: “Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the
brave, where we are threatened daily because we want to live as decent human
March 7, 1965
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and SNCC lead a peaceful
demonstration against unjust voter registration tests in Selma, Alabama. Under
the direction of Governor George Wallace, law enforcement officers brutally
attack hundreds of demonstrators with clubs and tear gas, in the infamous
March 21-25, 1965
March on Montgomery, Alabama led by Martin Luther King, Jr. The four-day
march ends with a rally outside the state capitol in Montgomery on March 25
attended by 25,000 people.
August 6, 1965
Voting Rights Act is passed, authorizing the U.S. Attorney-General to send
federal examiners to register black voters, and suspend all literacy tests
in states where less than 50% of the voting-age population had been registered
or had voted in the 1964 election.
July 1, 1965
The Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965 is signed into law by President
Johnson on Liberty Island, eliminating the racist quota system of the National
Origins Act of 1924.
November 1, 1966
Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts is elected the first African-American U.S.
senator since Reconstruction.
November 1, 1966
Barbara Jordan becomes the first African American to serve in the Texas
state senate since 1883. She later serves in the U.S. Congress.
July 6, 1967
Martin Luther King, Jr. announces the SCLC’s first voter registration
drive in a northern city, Cleveland, Ohio.
November 7, 1967 Carl Stokes is elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, the first
African American mayor of a major city.
November 5, 1968
Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn, New York becomes the first black woman elected
to the U.S. Congress.
April 30, 1969
Governor Nelson Rockefeller signs the New York City School Decentralization
Bill into law, allowing for the election of Community School Boards by proportional
representation and grants voting rights to non-citizens with children attending
September 28, 1970
Senior College XVII in Brooklyn named Medgar Evers College by the City University
of New York to honor the slain civil rights activist.
November 3, 1970
The Bronx elects Herman Badillo the first Puerto Rican in the U.S. Congress.
March 23, 1971
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives 18-20 year-olds
the right to vote.
November 7, 1972
Elizabeth Holtzman of Brooklyn, NY becomes the youngest women elected to
the U.S. Congress.
May 19, 1975
The New York State Legislature approves a bill that allows voter registration
August 6, 1975
The Voting Rights Act is amended to include rights for language minorities.
September 28, 1984
The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and the Handicapped Act requires
“access for the elderly and handicapped individuals to registration
facilities and polling places in federal elections.”
May 26, 1987
The CUNY Board of Trustees passes a resolution that all CUNY colleges must
integrate voter registration into the student registration process.
July 26, 1990
Americans with Disabilities Act requires full access to voting facilities
for the disabled.
October 6, 1990
The Christian Coalition of America is founded. The Coalition has registered
and mobilized millions of voters.
November 3, 1992
Illinois elects Carol Moseley Braun the first African American woman in
the U.S. Senate.
May 20, 1993
National Voter Registration Act is signed by President Bill Clinton, which
allows voter registration at the same time as an application or renewal of
a driver’s license or motor vehicle registration. In addition, it creates
voter registration opportunities for those seeking services from all state
offices and state-funded programs, and voter registration by mail.
January 1, 1994
Local Law 1993/094 goes into effect in New York City, establishing term
limits for the mayor, city council members, public advocate, and comptroller.
November 7, 2000
The presidential election between Albert Gore and George W. Bush ends in
deadlock when Florida’s deciding electoral votes are subject to an automatic
December 8, 2000
Florida Supreme Court orders a recount of “undervotes” in all
sixty-seven Florida counties. Bush appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
December 12, 2000
U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Florida Supreme Court decision, ending all
recounts and establishing Bush’s victory in Florida and his election
to the presidency.
October 29, 2002
President George W. Bush signs the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which mandates
funds to states to replace punch card voting systems; to establish the Election
Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections;
and to provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election
laws and programs.