I'm about a quarter of the way through this book which tackles this issue in detail throughout US history: https://www.amazon.com/Fight-Vote-Michael-Waldman/dp/1501116...
I'd recommend it so far if it's something you're interested in.
I found it from this interview which is also good, might be worth listening to this first before deciding to pick up the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgVuJiMxOb4
Some quick tidbits:
- Initially the public couldn't vote for senators who were chosen by state legislature.
- Initially the public couldn't vote for president.
- Initially the 'public' was white men with property (this one is more widely known), but there was a lot of arguing between states about this. In some states the vote was originally available to more people before being restricted.
- Early on candidates persuaded people to vote with booze filled parties. A lot of early anti-women voting arguments were originally about protecting them from these parties (bizarrely).
- Lots of long discussions between founders about what it would mean to having a voting public, fear of the public vs. aristocrats, potential abuse of government, and the rise of a tyrannical leader, etc.
I liked this argument from Ben Franklin:
“Imagine that a man owns a donkey, and so he gets the right to vote. And in the next four years, he learns a lot more about politics and current events and becomes a more equipped citizen, but his donkey dies, and you want to take his vote away because he no longer owns property? So who, pray tell, does the right to vote reside in? The man or the ass?”