Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Once Upon a Time in America (6.30.10)

On this day in U.S. history in 1971, the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

This Amendment gave the right to vote to anyone 18 years of age.

The text 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.”

Originally, President Nixon had signed a law requiring the voting age be 18 but the law was challenged by Oregon and Texas. In Oregon v Mitchell, the Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional to require a state to allow 18 year olds to register to vote.

Because of the Vietnam War, and the fact that those who were drafted and required to fight in that war, were not allowed to vote, Congress felt pressure to propose a Constitutional Amendment to lower the voting age.

Connecticut was the first state to ratify the Amendment.

Oklahoma did not ratify the Amendment until July 1, 1971 (after it had already been approved).

Strangely, there are still 8 states that never ratified the Amendment: Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah. Strange. I wonder what their motivations are?

After, the Amendment was ratified, a signing ceremony was held on July 5 by President Nixon.

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