Historical Highlights

The 26th Amendment

July 01, 1971
The 26th Amendment Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Serving 30 years in the House of Representatives, Carl Albert of Okalahoma earned the nickname "Little Giant" as a high school senior. The endearment stuck with him through his rise to Speaker of the House in 1971.
The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on this date. 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 400 to 19 on March 23, 1971. On June 30, 1971, Ohio became the 39th state to ratify the amendment; however the official ratification did not take effect until July 1 when the Government Services Administration opened for the day. With the 1972 elections looming, the 26th Amendment was ratified in record time. President Richard M. Nixon officially certified it on July 5.

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