Rep. Eshoo Celebrates 50 Years of 26th Amendment to Lower Voting Age to 18
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the 50th anniversary of the 26th Amendment to allow 18 to 20-year-olds to vote, U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) submitted a statement to the Congressional Record to celebrate California’s role in passage and acknowledge hurdles that still stand in the way of young voters.
“This bipartisan 26th Amendment was the culmination of young activists of all political parties and backgrounds coming together to fight for their democratic right,” said Rep. Eshoo. “It was reported that some in Washington called the effort a ‘children’s crusade.’ But those naysayers quickly learned one of Washington’s most important lessons: never doubt America’s youth.”
The 26th Amendment passed through Congress on March 23, 1971. The Amendment gave more than 10 million 18 to 20-year-olds the right to vote.
Rep. Eshoo’s full statement for the Congressional Record is below:
Today, March 23, 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Congressional passage of the 26th Amendment to the Constitution which extended the right to vote to 18 to 20 year olds. This bipartisan amendment was the culmination of young activists of all political parties and backgrounds coming together to fight for their democratic right.
It was reported that some in Washington called the effort a ‘children’s crusade.’ But those naysayers quickly learned one of Washington’s most important lessons: never doubt America’s youth.
With the proud support of California’s former Members of Congress Don Edwards, Jerry Waldie, Pete McCloskey, Ab Mikva and others, the Amendment passed the House 401 to 19, after Senate approval by a 94 to 0 vote, and gave more than 10 million 18 to 20-year-olds the right to vote.
Since then, youth activism has remained a driving force to address our nation’s biggest issues. The global climate crisis, gun violence and police brutality have sparked worldwide movements for change led by young organizers.
Half a century after Congress passed the 26th Amendment, young voters face many roadblocks to registering to vote and actually being able to cast their ballots. Many young Americans aren’t educated on how to vote or register to vote, face challenges to voting absentee while studying away from home, and face the burden of having to go to class or work on Election Day.
And for young people of color, the challenges are even greater as the overcriminalization of youth leads to adult felony convictions that bar them from voting in many states, fees that must be paid before voting, and arrests for low-level offenses that deter potential voters from showing up to the voting booth.
H.R. 1, the For The People Act, which the House passed this month, would strengthen the 26th Amendment by requiring online voter registration, making absentee ballots more accessible, sending federal funds for colleges and universities to appoint a “campus vote coordinator” to educate students on how they can vote and improve voter participation on campus, and ensure formerly incarcerated individuals have their right to vote restored when they reenter society. The bill also allows 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register to vote, engaging future voters at a young age to encourage higher participation in the future.
America’s youth are ambassadors to our future. March 23rd is an anniversary to celebrate extraordinary progress made by visionaries whose shoulders we stand on today.