When Did It Become Legal for 18 Year Olds to Vote

As uncertainty about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election dissipated, one data point was clear: The vote of racially diverse youth was “crucial” in sending former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris to the White House. According to researchers at Tufts University`s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 preferred the Democratic ticket by a margin of 25 points. Their cohort, particularly young people of color, has played a key role in battlefield states like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and youth participation has increased significantly since 2016. 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] It was “a coming-out event” for the coalition, says de Schweinitz. Unlike previous suffrage efforts, which lacked popular support, the coalition exposed a number of state committees and organizations in which young people lobbied for the right to vote. [They wanted] to change the narrative and show that young people wanted to be full participants. Fifty years later, young voters are still indispensable to our bourgeois infrastructure. Not only are they participating in our elections – even at a record pace in 2020 – they are winning. Young Americans are putting their talent and vision at the disposal of school boards, city councils and county commissions; Teenagers serve as state legislators and mayors, and we`re the best at that. The idea simmered in a political flame for the next two decades.

In his 1954 State of the Union address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower advocated lowering the voting age. By 1960, Kentucky, Alaska and Hawaii had joined Georgia and allowed those under 21 to vote in state and local elections. (Kentucky lowered the voting age to 18 in 1955, and Alaska and Hawaii lowered the voting age to 19 and 19, respectively.) 20 years when they became states in 1959.) In 1963, President John F. Kennedy created the Presidential Commission on Voter Registration and Turnout to counter the low turnout of the United States compared to other Western countries such as Denmark (85.5%) and Italy (92%). The Commission recommended solutions such as expanding voter registration data, abolishing voting taxes, facilitating postal voting, and that “voting by 18-year-olds should be considered by States.” On March 10, 1971, the Senate voted 94-0 to propose a constitutional amendment to ensure that the minimum voting age would not exceed 18. [33] [34] On March 23, 1971, the House of Representatives voted 401 to 19 in favor of the proposed amendment. [35] After their victory, many involved in the campaign immediately turned their attention to registering new voters in time for next year`s presidential election.

Politicians have also mobilized to cover the 18-21 age group. Despite widespread assumptions that young people tended overwhelmingly to the left, Nixon`s campaign created Young Voters for the President, an organizing arm specifically targeting conservative “children of the silent majority” who did not connect with the more liberal protesters and did not appreciate their association with the campaign for youth suffrage. Democratic candidate George McGovern assumed that young people would overwhelmingly support his anti-war message, expecting a 70% sweep of the population. This decision meant that state election officials in almost every state had to create and maintain two sets of voter rolls, resulting in a huge administrative burden and costs that many states did not want to bear. And even if they did, it was unlikely that everything could be organized before the 1972 elections. This issue helped move the 26th Amendment forward as a viable and necessary solution. “We see injustice in our society, which we want to redress; We see imperfections that we want to make perfect; We dream of things that should be done but not done; We dream of things that have never been done before, and we wonder why. And above all, we see all these as conditions that we want to change, but cannot change. They have disarmed us with the most constructive and powerful weapon of a democratic system – the election. By 1965, the United States was increasingly directly involved in the Vietnam War.

General public support for the conflict began to decline dramatically as U.S. casualties increased. War is increasingly being questioned. By the end of the decade, anti-war protests were commonplace as thousands of 18-year-old Americans were conscripted into the military to fight — and die — for their country. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote,” the slogan, first heard during World War II, was again embraced by student activists. Senator Birch Bayh`s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments began its hearings in 1968 on extending the right to vote to 18-year-olds. [29] In his testimony, James Brown Jr. Making an explicit connection between black American voting rights and young people, the NAACP said, “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.

explains de Schweinitz in his article “The Right Age for the Right to Vote.” If 18-year-olds are to be enlisted to fight for their government,” Michigan Sen. Arthur Vandenberg said as Congress considered his bill to lower the voting age, “they should be eligible at 18 to vote for the type of government they fight best for.” At the state level, however, the pressure for youth suffrage has grown.

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