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Voting Age Lowered

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On July 5, 1971, President Richard Nixon formally certified the 26th Amendment of the Constitution, which granted 18 year olds the right to vote. Prior to that date, the voting age had been 21 in a majority of the states, even though 18 year olds were old enough to get married, work, and were expected to pay taxes as others adults did. In the Vietnam War, the average age of U.S. soldiers was 19, and a slogan--''Old enough to fight, old enough to die''--gained popularity. In 1971, Senator Jennings Randolph, a Democrat of West Virginia, proposed a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age and it unanimously passed the Senate. In the House of Representatives only 19 out of 419 congressmen opposed it and it was sent to the states to be ratified. It took just 100 days to receive the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. On July 5, the 26th Amendment was formally adopted into the Constitution, adding 11 million potential voters to the electorate. Half of these young voters cast their ballot in the 1972 presidential election.