The 26th Amendment Lowers the Voting Age to 18
Today in history, July 5, 1971, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was officially certified. President Nixon had signed the Act, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years of age, on January 1, 1971.
When the Founding Fathers set the voting age at twenty-one, they were following a common law tradition that went relatively unchallenged in the United States until 1942. In October of that year, as Americans fought in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation to lower the military draft age from 21 to 18. For many, this raised the question, “if a man is old enough to serve, is he old enough to vote?”
From 1942 until 1965, members of Congress introduced over sixty resolutions to grant young people the right to vote, and in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first President to voice his support for the youth vote.
Image: Certification of the 26th Amendment, 7/5/71. From the Nixon Library.
"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 26th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress March 23, 1971 and ratified on July 1 of that year- the fastest ratification of any Constitutional Amendment. On July 5, 1971, President Richard Nixon held a Certification Ceremony with a group of newly-enfranchised 18-year old Americans.
Check this out for a video of the Certification Ceremony, and for more on President Nixon and the 26th Amendment.
The election of 1868 marked the first election in which recently freed slaves were allowed to vote. Many of them voted for General Ulysses S. Grant, pictured here.
Grant won the Republican presidential nomination, despite the fact that the only time he had ever voted for president was in 1856, when he voted for Democrat James Buchanan.
Grant’s picture is attached to this metal star with adhesive, and it has two metal tabs on the back so it can be attached to clothing.
-Presidential Memorabilia from the Truman Library
35th Anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Selma
President Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, and Representative John Lewis join hands and they lead the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 1965 March. March 5, 2000.
Washington D.C. Residents Vote for President for the First Time on November 3, 1964
The District of Columbia was founded as the capital of the U.S. government in 1791. As a federal district, D.C. residents did not have the right to vote in presidential elections and had no representation in the Electoral College for 173 years.
The 23rd Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1961 and gave Washington D.C. representation in the Electoral College. This effectively granted the people of D.C. the right to vote in a presidential election.
The first election that D.C. voters cast their ballots in was between incumbent President Johnson and challenger Barry Goldwater. D.C. voters helped secure LBJ’s presidential win 47 years ago, today.
Based on population, the District of Columbia now has 3 electoral votes.