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Raising A.B.C. (A Better Citizen)  Voting Rights
Raising A.B.C. is designed to help students discover how candidates get elected and how participating in the voting process creates better citizens.  Raising A.B.C.--Kids Get Out the Vote was written by Peggy Wyns-Madison, a former Teachers Network web mentor. 

Voting Rights

Today many citizens take the right to vote for granted. Yet history tells us that people struggled to win the right to vote. If you lived in the year 1965, you would have had to pass a literacy test in order to vote.  Find out other historical voting facts by stepping into a  voting time machine

Several amendments to the U.S. Constitution expanded voting to more people. Look at the amendments below to find which ones expanded voting rights. 

An Abridged 
Bill of Rights 
By Thomas Dyer 
(Thomas Dyer teaches at Gearhart Elementary and Junior High School in Bly, Oregon.)

First Amendment: Freedom of Religion, Assembly, and the Press 
Congress cannot pass laws that take away the freedom to believe and worship as you wish, and shall not limit freedom of speech or freedom of the press (the ability to write what you want). The right of people to peacefully get together, and to ask the government to correct wrongs, shall be protected. 

Second Amendment: Freedom to Bear Arms 
Because a fighting force of citizens might be necessary to protect a free state, states have a right to allow people to keep weapons in their homes. 
Third Amendment: Limits on the Quartering of Soldiers 
People don't have to allow soldiers to stay in their homes during peacetime, nor in time of war unless a special rule is made by the government. 

Fourth Amendment: Limits on Searches and Seizures 
Unless the government (including the police) has good reason, people, their homes, and their things cannot be searched or taken away. To conduct a search, of ficials must have reason to believe they will find a stolen object or discover a person breaking the law. 

Fifth Amendment: The Right to Due Process of Law, Including Protection Against Incriminating Yourself 
People don't have to give evidence against themselves in court. If they have been found innocent of a crime, they can't be tried again for the same crime. People have to be treated fairly by the law and cannot have their lives, liberty, or property taken from them unless it is fair. 

Sixth Amendment: The Right to Legal Counsel and a Fair Trial 
People accused of a crime can have a lawyer and a trial by jury. They have to be told what they are accused of, and they can ask questions about it. 

Seventh Amendment: The Right to a Jury Trial in Civil Cases 
If a disagreement between people is about something more than $20.00, then they can have a jury trial. 

Eighth Amendment: Unfair Punishments Forbidden 
People arrested on a charge can be free while they wait for their trial if they pay money to the court as bail, which is a way of promising they will return for their trial. If they show up, they get this money back. Fines have to be fair. And people found guilty cannot be punished in a cruel or unusual way that is not allowed by law. 

Ninth Amendment: Other Rights Are Protected by the Constitution 
The rights listed in Amendments 1-8 aren't the only ones people have. 

Tenth Amendment: Any Powers that Do Not Belong to the National Government Belong to the States 
The U.S. government has only those powers listed in the Constitution. 

Later Rights Amendments to the Constitution 

Amendment XIII, Section 1
- Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. 

Amendment XIV, Section 1 - All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 

Amendment XV, 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. 

Amendment XVII, Section 1 - The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. 

Amendment XIX  - 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 sex. 

Amendment XXIII, Section 1 - The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: 
A number of electors of President and Vice President...in no event more than the least populous state...and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment. 

Amendment XXIV, Section 1 - The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax. 

Amendment XXVI, Section 1 - The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. 

Bill of Rights

What is the Bill of Rights? Why was it added to the Constitution? Read about the Bill of Rights. Then consider writing your own personal Bill of Rights. Here is a Bill of Rights template


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