Rediscovering America: A quiz on voting rights

Labor Day weekend has traditionally been seen as the kickoff of election season. Granted, like the ever growing sport seasons, election politics seems to keep expanding. It is arguably the never-ending season.

Still, it is with summer moving into our rearview mirror that many begin to turn more serious attention to the election. This year Connecticut will be electing a new governor, state senators and representatives, as well as their congressional and Senate representatives in Washington.

It is an important responsibility.

The Voting Rights Act, which aimed to abolish discriminatory voting practices, was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the signing ceremony attended by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders, President Johnson called the act “a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on the battlefield.”

So how good is your understanding of American history and our unique form of constitutional government? It’s quiz time. So resist using Google or peeking at the end for the answer key and try your best.

1. Which constitutional amendment guaranteed voting rights regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” and in what year was it ratified?

A. 19th Amendment in 1920

B. 13th Amendment in 1865

C. 15th Amendment in 1870

D. 24th Amendment in 1964


2. What famous suffragist said: “It is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government — the ballot”?

A. Susan B. Anthony

B. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

C. Ida B. Wells

D. Louisa May Alcott


3. The first African-American woman was elected to Congress in 1968, just three years after the Voting Rights Act was passed. What was her name?

A. Katie Hall, D-Indiana

B. Mia Love, R-Utah

C. Yvonne Burke, D-California

D. Shirley Chisholm, D-New York


4. The voting rights of “citizens of language minorities” were solidified in amendments to the Voting Rights Act enacted in what year?

A. 1970

B. 1975

C. 1982

D. 2006


5. Until a constitutional amendment was ratified prohibiting it, several states, particularly in the South, required citizens to pay if they wished to vote in national elections. What was this fee called?

A. Income tax

B. Voter registration fee

C. Poll tax

D. Property tax


6. In what year did Native Americans gain the right to vote?

A. 1908

B. 1898

C. 1924

D. 1949


7. Before 2018, which three states had all-mail elections, where all registered voters receive ballots in the mail and then returned them either by mail or at specially designated sites?

A. Arkansas, Delaware and Washington

B. Colorado, Nebraska and Michigan

C. North Dakota, Oregon and West Virginia

D. Colorado, Oregon and Washington


8. Which state began all-mail elections this year?

A. Alaska

B. California

C. Hawaii

D. Wyoming


9. Polling places did not need to be handicapped accessible until what year?

A. 1984

B. 1994

C. 1990

D. 1976


10. President Johnson’s “And We Shall Overcome” speech helped pave the way for the Voting Rights Act to pass Congress. He gave the speech in response to what event?

A. Murder of Emmett Till

B. Freedom Rides

C. March on Washington

D. “Bloody Sunday”

Our thanks to Sarah Morgan Smith, a fellow at the Ashbrook Center and editor of Ashbrook’s forthcoming compendium “Race, Gender, Equality, and Civil Rights in America: Core Documents,” for coming up with the quiz and for its distribution.

And now the answers: 1-C, 2-A, 3-D, 4-B, 5-C, 6-C, 7-D, 8-B, 9-A, 10-D


The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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