What Is the 26th Amendment?


Quick Answer

The 26th Amendment establishes the right of United States citizens age 18 years of age and older to vote. The amendment goes on to further state that Congress has the power to take measures to enforce the right to vote.

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Full Answer

Prior to the amendment, the legal voting age was 21 years of age. In the 1960s, a movement to change the legal voting age was sparked by protests concerning the Vietnam War. Proponents of the change argued that if people 18 years and older were old enough to fight and die in war, then they were old enough to vote. In March of 1971, a proposal was adopted by Congress to change the legal age. The proposal was then sent to the states for ratification.

The amendment was ratified in July of 1971. It was the quickest amendment to be ratified in U.S. history. President Dwight Eisenhower stated his support of the proposal in 1954 during a State of the Union address. President Richard Nixon signed an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act with the requirement that all citizens 18 years of age and older would be allowed to vote at all levels of government. This helped to pave the way for the proposal and subsequent ratification of the amendment.

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