In the United States, state governments have had the right to establish requirements for voters, voter registration, and conduct of elections. Since the founding of the nation, legislatures have gradually expanded the franchise (sometimes following federal constitutional amendments), from certain propertied white men to almost universal adult suffrage of age 18 and over, with the notable exclusion of persons convicted of some crimes . Expansion of suffrage was made on the basis of lowering property requirements, granting suffrage to freedmen and restoring suffrage in some states to free people of color following the American Civil War, to white women in 1920, all Native Americans in 1924, and persons over the age of 18 in the 1970s.
When the District of Columbia was established as the national capital, with lands contributed by Maryland and Virginia, its residents were not allowed to vote for local or federal representatives, in an effort to prevent the district from endangering the national government. Congress had a committee, appointed from among representatives elected to the House, that administered the city and district in lieu of local or state government. Residents did not vote for federal representatives who were appointed to oversee them.
In 1804, US Congress cancelled holding US Presidential elections in Washington, D.C. or allowing residents to vote in them. Amendment 23 was passed by Congress and ratified in 1964 to restore the ability of District residents to vote in presidential elections.
In 1846, the portion of Washington, D.C. contributed from Virginia was "retrocessioned" (returned) to Virginia to protect slavery. Persons residing there (in what is now Alexandria), vote in local, Virginia and US elections.
Congress uses the same portion of the US Constitution to exclusively manage local and State level law for the citizens of Washington, D.C. and US military bases in the US. Until 1986, military personnel living on bases were considered to have special status as national representatives and prohibited from voting in elections where their bases were located. In 1986, Congress passed a law to enable US military personnel living on bases in the US to vote in local and state elections.