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On February 23, 1967, the Administrator of General Services, Lawson B. Knott, Jr., declared, by Certificate of Adoption, that the Twenty-fifth Amendment was part of the Constitution.

The Twenty-fifth Amendment appears officially as 32 Fed. Reg. 3287.


1. Congressional Globe, 27th Congress, 1st Session, 1841, 10: 3-5.

2. Lindsay Rogers, "Presidential Inability, the Review", cited in Senate Report No. 208, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965.

3. Senate Report No 208, 89th Congress 1st Session, 1965.

4. Ibid.

5. House Report No. 203, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965.

6. Senate Report No. 66, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965.

7. Congressional Record, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965, 111: 3250-3252, 3274, 3276.

8. Ibid., 3286.

9. House Report No. 203, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965.

10. Congressional Record, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965. 111, Pt. 6: 7959, 7967– 7969.

11. House Report No. 564, 89th Congress, 1965.

12. Congressional Record, 89th Congress, 1st Session, 1965. 111, Pt. 12:

13. Ibid., 15780.


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 power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


The Twenty-sixth Amendment, extending the right to vote to all citizens 18 years of age or older, was the culminating product of some 30 years of legislative attempts to give 18-year-olds this right. The first such attempt came in 1942, when Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia first introduced a resolution granting suffrage to 18-year-olds.1 Since that time, more than 150 similar proposals had been introduced, at least one in each successive Congress. Of these resolutions, only one, S.J. Res. 53 (83rd Cong.) was reported out of committee and debated on the Senate floor. The measure failed when it received a majority vote of 34 to 24, five votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority.2

In the 91st Congress, Senator Randolph once again introduced a resolution, S.J. Res. 7, extending voting rights to 18-year-olds. Hearings were held on the measure before the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments on February 16 and 17, and again on March 9 and 10, 1970.3 Following the hearings, Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts suggested that Congress might have the constitutional power to lower the voting age by statute, thus eliminating the need to amend the Constitution. Senator Michael J. Mansfield of Montana, joined by Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington and Senator Kennedy, introduced such a provision as an amendment to the Voting Rights Act of 1970 (H.R. 4249), then being debated in the Senate.

After 3 days of debate, the Senate adopted the Mansfield Amendment on March 12, 1970 by a vote of 64 to 17. The Amendment added Title III to the Voting Rights Act, giving 18-year-olds the right to vote in all elections-Federal and local, general and primary. The bill passed the Senate the following day, March 13, and was returned to the House. On June 17, the House concurred in the Senate amendments and on June 22, the Voting Rights Act of 1970 became Public Law 91-285 when it was signed by President Richard Nixon.4

Shortly after its passage, the Justice Department, several of the States, and other interested parties sought to test the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. On December 19, 1970, in the case of Oregon v. Mitchell, the Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning the constitutionality of the 18-year-old vote. Two days later, the Court handed down a split decision. In a 5 to 4 vote, the

Justices ruled that the Voting Rights Act could apply in Federal elections, but declared that the provisons of the Act granting 18year-olds the right to vote in State and local elections violated States' rights and were, therefore, unconstitutional.5

Since only three states-Georgia, Kentucky and Alaska-had passed 18-year-old voting laws, the Supreme Court's decision created a dual voting age system in the remaining 47 States. Many argued that the dual voting age would actually curtail the number of people who would vote, rather than increase the number as the Voting Rights act had intended. It was felt that voting would not only become confusing and increasingly fraudulent, it would also be costly, since it would require $10 to $20 million to establish dual voting age machinery throughout the United States.6


As soon as the 92nd Congress convened in 1971, Senator Randolph, on January 25, reintroduced S.J. Res. 7. The Resolution, which would overturn the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. Mitchell, as it applied to State and local elections, gathered 86 cosponsors and was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. On March 4, the measure was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee with only perfecting amendments.7 Senate consideration on the measure began 5 days later, on March 9. During the floor debate, the Senate adopted the perfecting amendments, while defeating another proposal intended to grant representation to the District of Columbia in the Senate and House of Representatives.8 On March 10, the Resolution unanimously passed the Senate, 94 to 0, six not voting.9

In the House, H.J. Res. 223, a resolution similar to S.J. Res. 7, was also introduced10 and, on March 16, was reported favorably by the House Judiciary Committee.11 However, on March 23, the House voted to adopt S.J. Res. 7, in lieu of their own resolution, 401 to 19, 12 not voting. 12


On the same day as its passage in the House, the proposed Twenty-sixth Amendment to the Constitution was sent to the 50 States for ratification. 13 Also on March 23, Connecticut became the first State to ratify the Amendment; and within 4 months, the necessary 38 State ratifications were completed. The ratification dates of each State appear below:

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Ratification of the Twenty-sixth Amendment was completed on July 1, 1971 when action was concluded by the 38th State, North Carolina. On July 5, Robert L. Kunzig, Administrator of General Services, officially certified the adoption of the Amendment as part of the Constitution. The Amendment was subsequently ratified by Oklahoma, on July 1, 1971; Virginia on July 8, 1971; Wyoming on July 8, 1971; and Georgia on October 4, 1971.14 No action was completed on the Amendment by the remaining States.

The Twenty-sixth Amendment appears officially as 36 Fed. Reg. 12725.


1. Congressional Record, 77th Congress, 2nd Session, 1942, 88, Pt. 6: 8507. 2. Ibid., 83rd Congress, 2nd Session, 1954, 100 Pt. 5: 6911, 6956, 6963, 6969.

3. "Lowering the Voting Age to Eighteen", hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, Senate, 91st Congress, 2nd Session, 1970.

4. Senate Report No. 92-26, 92nd Congress, 1st Session, 1970.

5. Congressional Record, 92nd Congress, 1st Session, 1971, 117, Pt. 1: 271, 928, 3052 (Pt. 3).

6. Ibid., 5495-97.

7. Senate Report No. 92-26, 92nd Congress, 1st Session, 1970.

8. Congressional Record, 92nd Congress, 1st Session, 1971, 117, Pt. 5: 5488-5517, 5519-5520, 5577-5578.

9. Ibid., 5802-5811, 5814-5830.

10. House Report No. 92-37, 92nd Congress, 1st Session, 1970.

11. Congressional Record, 92nd Congress, 1st Session, 1970, 111: 6847-6848.

12. Ibid., 7532-7570.

13. Ibid., 7505.

14. Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, the Constitution of the United States (Richmond, 1965), 39.

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