Congress Cannot Set Voter Age Requirement For State Elections

1970

After Congress passes a law that, among other requirements, lowers the voting age from 21 to 18, several states sue, claiming that states have the right determine how to run their own elections. In Oregon v. Mitchell, the U.S. Supreme Court finds that Congress has the right to regulate voter age in federal – but not state – elections.

The 17th Amendment, the Court holds, does not change this. “It is a plain fact of history that the Framers never imagined that the national Congress would set the qualifications for voters in every election from President to local constable or village alderman.”

Three months later, Congress will send the 26th Amendment to the states for ratification. It officially lowers the minimum age for voting in federal and state elections to 18.