The 26th Amendment gives the right to vote to young adults between the ages of 18 and 21.
As the United States enters World War II, the phrase “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” becomes a popular slogan among those seeking to lower the voting age to 18 years old.
Sen. Jennings Randolph (D., W.Va.) introduces an amendment to lower the voting age to 18. He goes on to introduce the amendment 11 more times during his 41-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. It eventually passes in 1971.
Georgia passes a law to lower the voting age to 18 years old for state and local elections.
With the reinstitution of the draft for the Vietnam War, many question what they see as a contradiction in U.S. voting policy. A consensus begins to form around the notion that if 18-year-olds are old enough to fight for democracy abroad, they should be able to fully participate in democracy at home.
After the passage of the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970, several states refuse to comply. The U.S. government files cases against the states of Arizona and Idaho to seek compliance with the law. Texas and Oregon file lawsuits claiming Congress overstepped its authority when it passed the law. At the U.S. Supreme Court, the four cases are combined into Oregon v. Mitchell. The Court upholds the federal prohibitions on literacy tests and residency requirements and certain rules on absentee balloting. The Court also rules that Congress can lower the voting age in federal elections, but not in state and local elections.
The 26th Amendment is added to the Constitution, permanently lowering the voting age for all elections to 18.