Suffrage Law and Legal Definition

Suffrage is the right or privilege of casting a vote at a public election. It also means a vote or the act of voting.

The word suffrage comes from Latin suffragium, meaning "vote". Suffrage is used to describe not only the legal right to vote, but also to the practical question of the opportunity to vote, which is sometimes denied those who have a legal right. In the United States, extension of suffrage was part of Jacksonian democracy.

In United States the eligibility to vote is determined by both federal and state law. In the U.S. only a citizen has the right to vote. In the absence of any federal or state law, each state has its own discretion to establish qualifications for suffrage and candidacy within their own jurisdiction. The Unites States Constitution specifically states about the right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act, 1965 governs the voting rights in Unites States. The Statute specifically states that the voting right of a person cannot be abridged for reasons like:

1. The no religious test clause;

2. Race, color, or previous condition of servitude;

3. On account of sex;

4. By reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax; and

5. Who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote. [42 U.S.C. 1973]