Happy birthday, 26th Amendment!
Throughout 2012, we’ll be celebrating the 225th anniversary of the Constitution. But the Constitution drafted and signed in 1787 was just the beginning–since then, “We the People” have amended the Constitution 27 times.
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the 26th Amendment (ratified July 1, 1971). Here’s what you need to know:
WHAT IT DOES
The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years old.
WHY IT WAS ADDED
With the draft during the Vietnam War came increasing pressure to lower the voting age. If they were old enough to go to war, young people argued, they were old enough to choose the leaders with the power to send them to war.
Congress proposed the 26th Amendment on March 23, 1971. The amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the states on July 1, 1971. It was the most quickly ratified 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.
The 26th Amendment today
On March 23, 2012–the anniversary of the amendment’s proposal–Rock the Vote joined the National Constitution Center in kicking off the second annual Democracy Day, a celebration of the right to vote for young Americans. Check out the video below for a look at the exciting and important moments in voting history.
Celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Constitution and civic holidays and milestones throughout the year! Download a hi-res PDF for the National Constitution Center’s 2012 civic calendar here.
Holly Munson is a programs coordinator at the National Constitution Center and the assistant editor of Constitution Daily.