Voter disenfranchisement refers to the practice of creating formal or informal barriers to prevent or discourage certain groups from participating in the electoral process. As formerly disenfranchised groups have won suffrage (the right to vote), voter disenfranchisement practices in the United States have generally transitioned from the use of formal laws and intimidation tactics to the passage of seemingly unrelated laws that disproportionately disenfranchise members of certain groups from voting.


Universal suffrage is equivalent to the notion of a democracy in which each and every person has one vote. Voting practice in the United States has historically been far from this ideal, though some would say it is closer now than it was in the past. Only landowners—largely White male Protestants over age 21—were allowed ...

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