Contested Franchise

Take Action

Throughout this nation’s history, Americans have worked both to restrict the right to vote and to expand it to as many citizens as possible. The American Civil War resulted in the greatest expansion of citizenship and civil rights in American history. It also bequeathed to us the tools--namely the 14th and 15th Amendments--to protect voting rights and the ability to have a voice in shaping the country in which we live.

To participate in this legacy of the Civil War era, you can take several steps to ensure your ability to vote.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the voting laws in your state. Find your state’s election deadlines and voting requirements here.
  2. Check your voter registration status -- or register to vote–at
  3. Whether you are voting by mail or in person, have a plan to make sure that your vote gets in and is counted. Check a current snapshot of how to vote in your state here, including by voting early or absentee ballots.

The experience of casting a ballot reflects the health of our republic, which we can trace through history to our present. Read other accounts of voting during the Civil War Era and submit your experience voting here!

(Right) Activists rally for voting rights for ex-felons, 2013. Courtesy of Flickr User Michael Fleshman, under CC BY-SA 2.0.