Adopted in 1787 and ratified in 1788, the Constitution makes no central policy on voting rights. It leaves the decision to individual states.
Constitutional references to American Indians and voting rights
American Indians were the only racial/ethnic group mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Their inclusion in the Constitution recognized their sovereignty yet did not guarantee citizenship or voting rights.
For example, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 states that “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States…excluding Indians not taxed” and Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 states that “The Congress shall have Power To…regulate Commerce…with the Indian Tribes…”.
The interpretation of these clauses would serve as the backdrop to court cases in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as American Indians worked to affirm their rights as citizens and voters.