This year we are celebrating an important milestone in American democracy! 50 years ago, the 26th Amendment of the Constitution extended the right to vote to millions of Americans by lowering the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.
For years, advocates had argued that if young Americans are old enough at 18 to fight and even die for their country in war, they are also old enough to vote- to choose the leaders who might send them into harms’ way. After repeatedly introducing legislation to lower the voting age without success, Congress successfully passed the 26th Amendment on March 23, 1971, sending it to the states for ratification.
By April 3, 1971 New Jersey had joined 12 other states in ratifying the Amendment. More states followed in rapid succession and on July 5, 1971 the voting age was officially lowered to 18 years old.
Today, young people are a critical part of our electorate. In the 2020 election, New Jersey had the highest youth voter turnout in the country. This year, as we mark this important milestone for our democracy, we are looking forward to honoring the generations of young people who eagerly cast their first ballot and recognizing our newest young voters who will enter the voting booth for the first time.
We’ll be celebrating the 26th Amendment throughout the year! Watch out for our social media posts, an upcoming online video event about first voting experiences, and more. It’s an exciting time for democracy here in New Jersey, so stay tuned!
To learn more about voting in New Jersey, please visit Vote.NJ.Gov