Right to Vote
The right to vote, also known as suffrage, is the ability to participate in the political process in a democracy. In most modern democracies, all adults can vote in elections, either for representatives or referendums. The right to vote is governed by the voting age, which varies by country. In the United States, the voting age is eighteen.
The term universal suffrage refers to those societies in which the right to vote is not restricted by sex, race, wealth, or social status. The first country to grant universal suffrage was New Zealand, in 1893, followed by Finland in 1906. The United States did not achieve universal suffrage until 1920, following the passage of the 19th Amendment.
In the United States, at first only free white men were granted the right to vote. African-American men were granted the right to vote in 1870, with the passage of the 15th Amendment. It was not until 1920, as stated, that women gained the right to vote.
The right to vote varies in many countries. In England, the right to vote was restricted to property holders from 1432 to 1832. It was not until 1918 that all men over the age of 21 were granted the right to vote, with voting rights extended to women in 1928. Brazil had obligatory voting for all adults over 21 from 1932 to 1964, when a military dictatorship took over. The right to vote for all citizens over 16 was reestablished in 1989.