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Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Amendment XXVI (the Twenty-sixth Amendment) of the United States Constitution states:
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Interpretation and history
The amendment was first introduced to Congress by West Virginia representative Jennings Randolph in 1941. Randolph argued that people who were old enough to fight and die for the country during wars should also have the right to vote. Randolph left the House in 1947, but became a senator in 1959 and began to introduce the amendment at every session.
Suffrage to those eighteen or older was endorsed by Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson. A law was passed in the 1960s which was similar to the amendment, but the government of Oregon challenged it in court (Oregon v. Mitchell), and the Supreme Court overturned the parts of the law which required states to register 18-year-olds for state elections. Several states had already granted citizens from the ages of 18 to 21 the right to vote, but many citizens wanted all states to do so.
Congress and the state legislatures felt increasing pressure to pass the Constitutional amendment because of the Vietnam War, in which many young men who were ineligible to vote were conscripted to fight, and died. With this in his mind, President Lyndon Johnson had asked Congress to propose an amendment lowering the voting age to 18 in the summer of 1968. The amendment passed through Congress when it was reintroduced by Randolph in 1971, and within months passed three-fourths of the state legislatures, more quickly than any other amendment. The 26th Amendment was formally certified by President Richard Nixon on July 1, 1971.
- Nineteenth Amendment, which granted suffrage to women
- Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, lowered voting age to 18
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