1971 July 5

18-Year-Olds Finally Get the Right to Vote


President Richard Nixon on this day signed the Twenty-sixth Amendment, granting 18–20-year-olds the right to vote. Eighteen year-olds had previously been granted the right to vote by Congress in 1970 in an amendment to the extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court, on December 21, 1970, however, declared the law an unconstitutional intrusion on the right of states to set their own voting requirements.

The Twentieth-Sixth Amendment was the fastest amendment ever ratified. Congress passed the amendment and sent it to the states on the 23rd of March 1971. It was ratified by 38 states by July 1st, which made it officially a part of the Constitution. (The presidential signing of a new amendment is a separate part of the procedure.)

The 26th Amendment: “Section 1. 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. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

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

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!