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Letter on the 26th Amendment

Letter on the 26th Amendment/tiles/non-collection/c/c_033imgtile1.xml
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration


In 1971, Yale University Law School professor Louis Pollak wrote this letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Emanuel Celler in support of H.J. Res. 223, a proposed constitutional amendment to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years. This letter is in response to Celler’s letter to Pollak from February 24, in which the chairman requested Pollak’s views on the bill. Pollak’s letter was also printed in a report, No. 92-37, along with other letters from congressional scholars in favor of the bill. The bill was timely because of the unpopularity of the Vietnam War and the reality that young men could be drafted to serve in the military at age 18 but were not allowed to vote in all elections. Pollak pointed out that the Voting Rights Act amendments passed in 1970 inconsistently permitted citizens between ages 18 and 21 to vote in federal elections but not in state or local elections. On March 23, 1971, the House passed H.J. Res 223 by a vote of 401 to 19, and the Senate’s voting age bill, S.J. Res. 7, by voice vote. After approval by the states, the bill was ratified and became the 26th Amendment to the Constitution on July 1, 1971.

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