The Amendments: Fifteen

SECTION 1

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.

SECTION 2

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

(Source)

This amendment is pretty straightforward.  It was passed by Congress in 1869, and ratified a year later.

Though the 14th amendment protected the right to vote, this adds to the law prohibiting restriction of voting.  It still does not include the right to vote to women, but it does give the right to vote to African-Americans as it was no longer legal to discriminate against race.

There are several amendments tied to prohibited discrimination against voters. the 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th amendments all relate to voting rights.

I found it interesting to learn that previous different states had different voting restrictions.  Some would allow all citizens (including women and free blacks) the right to vote, others would require you to own a certain amount of property.  The 14th & 15th amendments nationalized voting rights, outlawing most restrictions.

There is an argument now about Voter ID laws, and how they may or may not be constitutionally sound.  Some believe that this violates the 14th amendment, and possibly the 15th as it seems to unfairly target some groups within the community and in some places possible racial issues exist.

I’m personally neutral on that subject because on one hand I can see how those who don’t have easy access to the DMV would find it hard to get a state ID that could allow them to vote.  On the other hand, so much today requires an ID from writing checks to purchasing age-required items like Decongestant.  Its hard to imagine why someone wouldn’t have an ID.  But unless the state can guarantee easy access to get the ID, I don’t believe it should be a requirement to vote.  Especially considering that the so called fraud its meant to prevent is usually very rare and often enough is simply the result of typographical errors or someone having the same name as a deceased person and their SS# being wrong.

Related Reading:

Myth of Voter Fraud – Brennan Center for Justice

Voter Fraud: A Massive Anti-Democratic Deception – Forbes

Our Documents:  The 15th Amendment  – you can get to see the actual amendment document

Passing of the 15th Amendment – PBS (For a special on U.S. Grant)

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2 thoughts on “The Amendments: Fifteen

  1. Pingback: New Series: The Articles of the Constitution | Sokorra’s Blog

  2. Pingback: The Amendments: An Intro | Sokorra’s Blog

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