Why Is the Legal Voting Age 18

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 desire to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 intensified 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] While a state may have the primary power to determine eligibility to vote under Article I of the Constitution, it has long been clear that it does not have the power to make the right to vote dependent on qualifications prohibited by other provisions of the Constitution, including the Fourteenth Amendment. No one believes, for example, that a state can deny a person the right to vote because of his race or religion. Although election requirements were left to the states, the voting age in each of them was 21. 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 wonders why choice for young people was proposed at a time when adolescence had increased so much, rather than in the past when people had more responsibilities 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] As early as 1966, Professor Cox, in a lengthy scientific article in the Harvard Review, recognized and endorsed the scope of the Supreme Court`s decision in Katzenbach v. Morgan. As an example of the power of Congress in the Morgan case, Professor Cox explicitly wrote that Congress has the power to legislate on the voting age at 18. As Professor Cox said, I believe that a congressional bill lowering the voting age can be justified for both reasons in Morgan. If Congress weighs the various interests and determines that there is a reasonable basis for granting the right to vote to 18-year-olds, a law lowering the voting age to 18 could not be successfully challenged as unconstitutional.

Because of the urgency of the issue and its growing momentum, I believe there are overriding considerations that argue in favour of federal action by law to achieve the objective. Ideally, it would be appropriate to include the proposal as an amendment to the bill currently pending in the Senate to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The debate in the Senate is already focusing on three of the major contemporary issues regarding the impact of state elective qualifications on electoral law – race, literacy and residency. Certainly, it is appropriate for Congress to address the fourth major issue – age. If enough support can be generated, it may be possible for 18-year-olds to vote for the first time this fall – in November 1970. Third, 18-year-olds already have many rights and obligations in our society that are comparable to voting. Of course, it does not automatically follow – just because an 18-year-old goes to war, works or gets married, signs a contract, pays taxes, drives a car, owns a firearm or is held criminally responsible as an adult – that he should have the right to vote. Every right or responsibility in our society raises unique questions that depend on the issue at hand. Determined to circumvent inaction on the issue, congressional allies included an 18-year voting provision in a 1970 bill that expanded the voting rights law. 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.

Various officials had advocated lowering the voting age in the mid-20th century, but were unable to gain the legislative impetus needed to pass a constitutional amendment. However, we must ensure that any action we take against 18-year votes does not interfere with the immediate consideration of the pending voting bill or delay its passage by the Senate or House of Representatives. We must ensure that the many important provisions enter into force as soon as possible. In 1970, Senator Ted Kennedy proposed amending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to lower the voting age nationally. [11] On 22. In June 1970, President Richard Nixon signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required the voting age to be 18 in all federal, state, and local elections. [12] In his statement announcing the extension, Nixon stated: In addition, a significant number of foreign countries now allow 18-year-olds to vote. This year, Britain lowered the voting age to 18.

Even South Vietnam grants 18-year-olds the right to vote. I recognize that it can be difficult to rely on the experience of foreign countries whose political conditions and experiences may differ from ours. It is ironic, however, that at a time when a number of other countries, including Britain, have taken the initiative to grant full political participation to 18-year-olds, the United States, a nation with one of the most developed democratic traditions in the history of the world, continues to refuse to participate. Second, by lowering the voting age to 18, we will encourage civic responsibility at an earlier age, thereby fostering sustainable social engagement and political participation for our youth. Those advocating lowering the voting age relied on a number of arguments to advance their cause, and studies increasingly link rising support for a lower voting age to the role of young people in the civil rights movement and other movements for social and political change in the 1950s and 1960s. [9] [10] Rising high school graduation rates and young people`s access to political information through new technologies have also influenced a more positive view of their preparation for the most important civil law. [9] President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his 1954 State of the Union address, was the first president to speak out publicly in favor of prohibiting the denial of age-related voting rights for those 18 years of age 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. It should be noted that no questions are raised here regarding the power of Congress to lower the voting age to less than 18. Essentially, the current debate about voting age is all about whether 18-year-olds should have the right to vote. There is a growing national consensus that they deserve the right to vote, and I think Congress has the power to act and should act on that consensus.