Essay on 26th Amendment

602 Words Oct 16th, 2012 3 Pages
The XXVIth Amendment

The extended debate on lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 first started during World War II and escalated sharply during the Vietnam War. The phrase “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” is traced back to the WWII decision to lower the draft age to 18, meaning the majority of those drafted lacked the right to vote. The issue became even more heated during the Vietnam War, when large numbers of men were being drafted and sent to Vietnam without the right to vote for the government sending them. Congress’ attempt to address the issue was included in an extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which set the voting age at 18 for all federal, state and local elections. This law, signed
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In my opinion, the amendment was important because it extended the right to vote to another group of people, just as previous amendments had done for African-American (the 15th Amendment) and women (the 19th Amendment). It also showed that the government was responsive to demands of its citizens – in this case citizens it was sending to war.
Calculating the actual impact of the votes of this group on American history is difficult. Most polls group younger voters in either the 18-24 or 18-29 category. This makes it especially hard to determine the impact of the voters specifically affected by the amendment. Since the amendment passed, voter participation in the 18-29 category reached a high of 55 percent (1972) and has fallen as low as 40 percent (2000).(Biskupic) In the 2008 Presidential election, 18-29 year old voters represented about 18 percent of the voters and 66 percent of them voted for Barack Obama. In 2004, this group represented 17 percent of the voters and 54 percent of them voted for John Kerry. It is generally assumed that younger voters are more liberal, and the above statistics seem to support that premise.
Election results aside, any amendment to the Constitution is an important event in American history and never an easy process.

(Interesting fact: Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah have never

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