“Voting is a way people decide things together. First, the people who want to vote have to sign in and wait for their turn… Mackenzie’s dad looks at the screen to see what the choices are. He decides, then presses a button on the screen. And that’s how grownups vote.”
In the early days of the United States, only about 120,000 people in a total population of more than 4 million could vote. Voting was usually limited to free white men who owned property and met certain religious qualifications. Eventually the right to vote became more widespread. By 1860 almost every state allowed all white men over 21 to vote.
After the Civil War (1861–65) the 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave the vote to men of all races. In practice, however, most black people in the South did not gain the right to vote until the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women, after a long political struggle, won the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
The right to vote has been further extended in recent decades. In 1971 the 26th Amendment to the Constitution gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. More recently, federal law has guaranteed the vote to people with disabilities and to those whose first language is not English.
Plus, related support from the Girl Scouts’ How to Talk to Your Kids About Voting and the Election.
National Geographic addresses tips for helping kids focus on the issues, respect different viewpoints, argue fairly, and think critically at Talking to Kids About the Election.