Twenty-sixth Amendment


  1. an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1971, lowering the voting age to 18.


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More About Twenty Sixth Amendment

What is the Twenty-sixth Amendment?

The Twenty-sixth Amendment is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that lowered the voting age to 18 in all elections.

The Constitution of the United States is the document that serves as the  fundamental law of the country. An amendment is a change to something. An amendment to the Constitution is any text added to the original document since its ratification in 1788. The Constitution has been amended 27 times in American history.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment has two short sections. The first reads:

“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.”

The second reads:

“The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The Twenty-sixth Amendment is straightforward: If you are 18 or older in the United States, you may legally vote in any election. Courts have repeatedly ruled that voting is the only right the Twenty-sixth Amendment gives. The Twenty-sixth Amendment doesn’t force states to allow 18 year olds to run for public office or purchase alcohol, for example.

Most of the court cases involving the Twenty-sixth Amendment have to do with college students. Courts have ruled that a state cannot prevent a college student from voting just because they live in a dormitory. Elsewhere, laws that prevent a person from using a college ID for voter registration purposes have been ruled to be constitutional: Because a person of any age can attend college, these laws can not be proven to be specifically targeting young voters.

Why is Twenty-sixth Amendment important?

The Vietnam War is often cited as the major reason for the Twenty-sixth Amendment. Because a large number of the men drafted to fight in the war were aged 18 to 20, Congress faced an intense amount of pressure to allow people being forced to die for their country the right to vote in it. Wisely, Congress responded to this pressure by passing the Twenty-sixth Amendment on March 23, 1971, The amendment was successfully ratified on July 1, 1971.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment has remained popular and uncontroversial since its ratification. Any debate around the amendment has been related to where the voter lives and documents used to prove age rather than age itself.

Did you know … ?

The Twenty-sixth Amendment holds the record for fastest ratification of any Constitutional amendment at just three months and eight days.

What are real-life examples of Twenty-sixth Amendment?

This tweet shows college students waiting at a polling place at the campus of Loyola University in 2018. Thanks to the Twenty-sixth Amendment, citizens 18 years old or older can vote in elections.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment is a popular amendment. Unsurprisingly, younger people are especially fond of it.

What other words are related to Twenty-sixth Amendment?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

The Twenty-sixth Amendment set the voting age to 21.

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