Twenty-Sixth Amendment


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Twenty-Sixth Amendment

The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

Section 1. 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.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment was proposed on March 23, 1971, and ratified on July 1, 1971. The ratification period of 107 days was the shortest in U.S. history. The amendment, which lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen, was passed quickly to avert potential problems in the 1972 elections.

The drive for lowering the voting age began with young people who had been drawn into the political arena by the Vietnam War. Proponents argued that if eighteen-year-olds were old enough to be drafted into military service and sent into combat, they were also old enough to vote. This line of argument was not new. It had persuaded Georgia and Kentucky to lower the minimum voting age to eighteen during World War II. The one flaw in the argument was that women were not drafted and were not allowed to serve in combat units if they enlisted in the armed forces.

Nevertheless, the drive for lowering the voting age gained momentum. In 1970 Congress passed a measure that lowered the voting age from twenty-one to eighteen in both federal and state elections (84 Stat. 314).

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, declared part of this measure unconstitutional in Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112, 91 S. Ct. 260, 27 L. Ed. 2d 272 (1970). The decision was closely divided. Four justices believed Congress had the constitutional authority to lower the voting age in all elections, four justices believed the opposite, and one justice, hugo l. black, concluded that Congress could lower the voting age by statute only in federal elections, not in state elections.

The Court's decision allowed eighteen-yearolds to vote in the 1972 presidential and congressional elections but left the states to decide if they wished to lower the voting age in their state elections. The potential for chaos was clear. Congress responded by proposing the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which required the states as well as the federal government to lower the voting age to eighteen.

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The federal government endorsed that civic ideal in 1946, when a commission formed by President Harry Truman recommended that civics be embedded throughout all college curricula and concluded that "[w]ithout an educated citizenry alert to preserve and extend freedom, it would not long endure." In 1971, eager to give protesting college students a bigger stake in the political system, Congress and the states ratified the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which lowered the voter age from twenty-one to eighteen.
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The focus of this paper is to examine in loco parentis in light of how the "age of majority" from the twenty-sixth amendment of the U.S.
The Twenty-sixth Amendment instituted a national voting age of 18, requiring many states to lower their voting age.
In the 1972 presidential election, when the ink was barely dry on the Twenty-Sixth Amendment (lowering the voting age to 18), only 52 percent of those aged 18-24 showed up at the polls (see Figure 1).
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