The 26th Amendment

  • Lowering Age of Draft to 18

    The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 set the draft age to 21-35. In June of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the draft age to 18. Many thought it was horrible that you could be sent to die in a country that they can not even vote in. This prompted Jennings Randolph to propose a constitutional amendment that would give 18-year-olds the right to vote, but it was not supported enough. The cause did continue to have a steady push.
  • State of the Union Address

    In President Dwight D. Eisenhower's State of the Union Address he encouraged lawmakers to take up the issue, "For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons. I urge Congress to propose to the States a constitutional amendment permitting citizens to vote when they reach the age of 18."
  • Proposal

    As troops began to arrive in Vietnam, New York Congressman Benjamin S. Rosenthal proposed lowering the voting age to 18.
  • "Eve of Destruction"

    The new single "Eve of Destruction" was released, and was at #103 on the Billboard charts. This song brought out anger in many Americans concerning the draft. The song featured the lyrics: "The eastern world it is explodin'
    Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
    You're old enough to kill but not for votin'" "You're old enough to kill but not for votin'" became a rallying cry in anti-war protests. It later became "Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote"
  • Draft Rates Increase

    President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered that troops needed to rise to 125,000 for the conflict against Vietnam. This doubled the number of men that needed to be drafted per month. The number of men that needed to be drafted went from 17,000 a month to 35,000 a month.
    In 1965 130,991 young men were drafted.
    In 1966 382,010 young men were drafted.
    Many of them were ages 18-20 and were unable to vote.
  • Press for Change

    Vice President Hubert Humphery said that lowering the voting age to 18, "would have a very good effect on American politics."
  • Congress or Constitution?

    President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Congress to lower the voting age to 18 because it would be, "a national affirmation of faith in our youth." It became a question of who would change the voting age, through Congress or The Constitution?
  • Testimony

    Senator Edward Kennedy in testimony in front of the Senate subcommittee on constitutional amendments "The well-known proposition - 'old enough to fight, old enough to vote'- deserves special mention. About 30 percent of our forces in Vietnam are under 21. Over 19,000, or almost half, of those who have died in action there were under 21. Can we really maintain that these young men did not deserve the right to vote?"
  • Voting Rights Act of 1970

    Nixon signed the Voting Rights Act of 1970 that extended the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It included a change that lowered the voting age. It was challenged due to whether or not it was constitutional. In Oregon v. Mitchell the Court said that it was unconstitutional to lower the voting age to 18 in state and local elections, but declared there should be a change for federal elections.
  • US Senate

    The US Senate unanimously voted for the Amendment. The results were 94-0.
  • Passed by The House of Representatives

    The 26th amendment was passed by The House of Representatives only 13 days after it was passed by the Senate. The results were 401-19.
  • Ratified

    The 26th Amendment was ratified by 3/4 of states and it says:
    Amendment XXVI:
    Section 1:
    The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.
    Section 2:
    The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
    The ratification was the quickest in history, it only took 100 days. Minted 11 million new voters.
  • The First Election After

    The new voters were expected to choose the presidential candidate George McGovern, who was an opponent of the Vietnam War. Nixon was re-elected winning 49 states in 1972.
  • Legacy

    Youth vote declined over the years. 55.4% voted in 1972, but the turnout steadily declined. 36% voted in 1988. Voting rates for 18-21-year-olds is a lot less than the rates of older voters. Although, there was an increase in the younger voting turnout for the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama elections. Many feel that younger generations are losing opportunities to make a change because many do not vote.