The Constitution did not specify who had the right to vote, leaving that decision to the states. At first, most states allowed only white males who owned property to vote; by the 1820s many property requirements were dropped. Only after the Civil War did the federal government enact laws specifying certain national standards.
Slowly suffrage was extended, generally applying today to citizens eighteen and older. But this did not happen without the dedicated struggle of those demanding inclusion. Controversy and discrimination has characterized the history of voting, as minorities, women, the poor, and young adults fought to obtain this basic right of citizenship.