1 July 1971
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On this date, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. In the turmoil surrounding the unpopular Vietnam War, lowering the national voting age became a controversial topic. Responding to arguments that those old enough to be drafted for military service, should be able to exercise the right to vote, Congress lowered the voting age as part of the Voting Rights Act of 1970. The Supreme Court upheld the legislation in a 5 to 4 vote in applying the lowered voting age to federal elections only. A constitutional amendment was required to uniformly reduce the age to 18. Endorsed by Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma, the amendment passed the House by a vote of 401 to 19, on March 23, 1971. The state legislatures in Ohio and North Carolina were the last to approve the amendment before official ratification took effect on July 1, 1972. With the 1972 elections looming, the 26th Amendment was ratified in record time. The Richard M. Nixon administration certified it four days later on July 5. [House of Representatives]
Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of 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.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.