Site search

Site menu:

Find Out More

Archives

Categories

Contact Us

Subscribe to Email Updates

Records of Rights Vote: “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote”

Cast your vote for the 26th Amendment to be displayed first in the new “Records of Rights” gallery. Polls close on November 15!

Congress can move quickly. The 26th Amendment was ratified in 100 days, faster than any other amendment.

In April 1970, Congress controversially lowered the voting age to 18 as part of legislation to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many people, including President Richard Nixon, believed that it was the right of the states, not the federal government, to set the voting age. President Nixon, nevertheless, signed the act, which was to go into effect January 1, 1971.

The effort to lower the voting age to 18 had begun three decades earlier. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote,” a slogan first heard during World War II, was adopted by student activists during the Vietnam War.

Photograph of a young Marine landing at Danang, Vietnam, 08/03/1965

Photograph of a young Marine landing at Danang, Vietnam, 08/03/1965

In 1942, the slogan prompted Congressman Jennings Randolph of West Virginia to propose an amendment to the Constitution lowering the voting age to 18. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson both championed the cause. Activists during the Vietnam War increased pressure on Congress to change the voting age, and in 1971, when Senator Randolph reintroduced his original proposal, it passed overwhelmingly.

On December 21, 1970, the Supreme Court ruled that the government had indeed overstepped its legislative bounds in lowering the voting age. Fearing mass confusion over who could vote in the 1972 election, Congress quickly moved to pass the 26th Amendment.  Ratification was accomplished in a record four months.

The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was certified by General Services Administrator Robert Kunzig on July 1, 1971. In a ceremony at the White House, President Richard M. Nixon also signed as a witness. He took the unprecedented step of inviting three 18-year-olds to also sign the new amendment.

Cast your vote for the 26th Amendment to be displayed first in the new “Records of Rights” gallery. Polls close on November 15!

Page one of the 26th Amendment

Page one of the 26th Amendment

Page two of the 26th Amendment

Page two of the 26th Amendment

Share | |

Comments

Comment from Michael Pierce
Time November 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

I had the opportunity to meet Senator Randolph several times when I was Executive Director of the National Association of CCC Alumni. He always spoke of this as being his proudest achievement.