1970 June 22

18-Year-Olds Get Right to Vote; But Not Quite Yet


On this day, President Richard Nixon signed an extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which included a provision granting 18-year-olds the right to vote in federal and state elections. The Supreme Court, however, declared the law unconstitutional in Oregon v. Mitchell, on December 21, 1970. The Court held that Congress did not have the authority to usurp the power of the states to usurp their authority to set their own qualifications for voting.

Eighteen-year-olds finally got the right to vote with the ratification of the Twenty-sixth Amendment, on July 5, 1971.

Learn more: Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in America (2000)

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