The desire to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 developed across the country in the 1960s, in part because of conscription during the Vietnam War. Conscription enlisted young men between the ages of 18 and 21 into the armed forces, primarily the U.S. military, to serve or support military combat operations in Vietnam. [1] A common slogan of supporters of lowering the voting age was “old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” [2] Determined to circumvent inaction on this issue, congressional allies included an 18-year voting provision in a 1970 bill that expanded the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court then ruled in Oregon v. Mitchell that Congress could not lower the voting age for state and local elections. Recognizing the confusion and cost of maintaining voter lists and separate elections for federal and state elections, Congress quickly proposed and states ratified the Twenty-sixth Amendment. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his 1954 State of the Union address, was the first president to publicly support the prohibition of age-related voting denial to persons 18 and older. [6] In the 1960s, Congress and state legislatures came under increasing pressure to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

This was largely due to the Vietnam War, in which many young men who were not eligible to vote were conscripted into the war and therefore had no way of influencing the people they sent at the risk of their lives. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” was a slogan commonly used by proponents of lowering the voting age. The slogan dates back to World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the military age to 18. One obstacle, says Jenny Diamond Cheng, a lecturer at Vanderbilt Law School, was Representative Emanuel Celler, who wielded power on the House Judiciary Committee. He became chairman of the committee in 1949 and worked tirelessly to prevent bills to lower the voting age, which he vehemently opposed. Half a century later, many elements of youth suffrage resemble what they did in the 1970s: young voters identify in greater numbers than political independents, and they still face barriers to voter registration and a lack of understanding of election laws. According to Quinn, one such barrier is the overcriminalization of black youth, which can lead to adults not voting for life, fees that need to be clarified before voting, and arrests for minor offenses that can deter potential voters from going to the polls. Residency requirements and state identification laws also hamper students` ability to vote. Many of these restrictions are being challenged across the country.

Between 1942, when the public debate about lowering the voting age began in earnest, and the early 1970s, ideas about youth organizations increasingly challenged the model of care that had previously dominated the country`s approach to youth rights. [9] The traits traditionally associated with youth—idealism, lack of “self-interest,” and openness to new ideas—were seen as positive qualities for a political system that seemed to be in crisis. [9] In response, the House of Representatives and Senate, supported by Nixon, introduced the 26th Amendment to the Constitution in March 1971. Even Celler saw the writing on the wall and told his colleagues in the House of Representatives, “This movement for youth voting cannot be suppressed. Any attempt to stop the wave for the 18-year-old vote would be as useless as a telescope for a blind man. Less than an hour after its adoption, States began ratifying the proposal. With the required two-thirds majority, achieved on July 1, President Nixon confirmed his 26th birthday four days later. Amendment and says, “The country needs an infusion of new minds from time to time.” I think we can trust that America`s new voices will provide what this country needs. In his testimony, James Brown Jr. of the NAACP made an explicit link between the right to vote of black Americans and that of young people.

The NAACP has a long and glorious history of trying to resolve the grievances of blacks, the poor, the oppressed, and the “victims” of unjust and illegal acts and acts. The disenfranchisement of some 10 million young Americans deserves, justifies, and demands the NAACP`s attention. The coalition came together in late April of that year for the NAACP-sponsored Youth Engagement Conference in Washington, D.C. Organized by Carolyn Quilloin (now Coleman), who began her activism work as a teenager protesting racial segregation in Savannah, Georgia, the rally brought together 2,000 young people from 33 states to lobby Congress for youth suffrage. Although the Twenty-sixth Amendment passed faster than any other constitutional amendment, about 17 states refused to adopt measures to lower their minimum voting ages after Nixon signed the extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1970. [4] Opponents of extending the right to vote to young people have questioned the maturity and responsibility of people over 18. Rep. Emanuel Celler, one of the most vocal opponents of a lower voting age from the 1940s to the 1970s (and chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee for much of that period), insisted that young people lacked the “good judgment” essential to good citizenship and the qualities that made young soldiers good soldiers. did not make them good voters. [9] Professor William G. Carleton wondered why choice for youth was proposed at a time when adolescence had increased so much, rather than in the past when people had more responsibility in previous years. [23] Carleton also criticized the decision to lower the voting age, citing Americans` concern for young people in general, over-reliance on higher education, and equating technological know-how with responsibility and intelligence.

[24] He also condemned the military service argument, calling it “cliché.” [25] Given the age of soldiers during the civil war, he asserted that literacy and education were not the reasons to restrict the right to vote; On the contrary, common sense and the ability to understand the political system justified restrictions on the voting age. [26] The researchers disagree on the extent to which grassroots voting actions have prompted government action. But after the mobilization, the political wheels began to turn to make youth suffrage a reality. According to Blumenthal, both parties appreciated the possible appropriation of the young electorate. For the Democrats, it was an opportunity to broaden their electoral base, which had suffered when the South defected to George Wallace`s campaign in 1968. For Republicans, lowering the voting age has provided a way to invite young people to participate in the current system while maintaining the status quo and preventing more radical unrest. Congress approved the amendment, but Oregon, Idaho, Texas and Arizona challenged the Supreme Court`s decision as a violation of states` rights to administer the vote. In Oregon v. Mitchell, the court ruled that Congress could pass an electoral age change at the federal level, but not at the state level. Subsequently, Oregon and Texas challenged the law in court, and the case went to the Supreme Court in 1970 as Oregon v. Mitchell.

[14] At that time, four states had a minimum voting age below 21: Georgia, Kentucky, Alaska, and Hawaii. [15] [16] The mood for lowering the voting age in the country dates back to World War II. As U.S. involvement in the war grew, President Roosevelt sought to expand the nation`s military and lower the age of conscription for young men from 21 to 18. Many were appalled by the idea that if young men could fight and die for their country, they would not be able to participate in its grassroots democratic process – voting. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became a common slogan that eventually led to a proposed constitutional amendment to give 18-year-olds the right to vote. However, the proposal has not gained traction politically. Politicians who advocated lowering the voting age in the 1940s and 1950s spoke of the potential of young people to get involved in politics.