How important do you think Amend XXVI of the Constitution is to you as a citizen?Are there any recent or historical events that are centered on it? Reflect on what the effect would be if this...

How important do you think Amend XXVI of the Constitution is to you as a citizen?

Are there any recent or historical events that are centered on it?

Reflect on what the effect would be if this amendment were not in the Constitution.  Are there any other controversies?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the conferment of the right to vote for 18 year olds is very profound.  The previous posts' thoughts about the nature of Vietnam and the large disparity between old and young in the perception of the conflict is very valid.  The idea of young people being sent to fight and die in a old person's war is something that motivated young individuals to become more skeptical of their government and spin off into taking a more active and direct role in participatory democracy.  The 26th Amendment is a part of this process.  One need only look at the last Presidential Election as an example of how young people can influence an election.  President Obama's election coalition of voters included many young people and there were frequent statements such as, "I just turned 18 and am voting for Obama."  Regardless of how one feels about the President, the spirit of idealism that the President was able to invoke spoke in a very profound way to young people, such as 18 year olds who were able to vote for the President and ended up voting for Obama.  The 26th Amendment is a large part of this because it made it happen.  With its passage, it ensured that young Americans can be included in the democratic process and in the greater enfranchisement of voting rights, democracy is enhanced and strengthened, moving one step closer to forming "a more perfect union."

lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This amendment gives 18-year-olds the right to vote. When it was enacted, the Viet Nam War was going on and 18-year-olds wondered how come they were old enough to go to war and die for their country, but they were not old enough to choose the politicians who made these life and death decisions for them. Don't forget that during Viet Nam, we had a military draft, so as soon as a young man turned 18, he had to immediately go to his local draft board and register. He could be called up for war at any time. If you were in college and your grades slipped, too bad! You would get drafted and off you would go to Viet Nam.

When one attains the age of 18, one is considered legally to be an adult, or at what is called "the age of consent." An 18-year-old has a lot of rights all of a sudden. For example, if you are a senor in high school and you turn 18, you don't have to show your grades to your parents anymore. You are considered the legal adult. Some states have driving restrictions on teens -- until they reach 18!

Another event that is related to this is the drinking age. In most states, the drinking age is 21. The argument then becomes, how come I can vote and serve my country, but I can't have a beer when I feel like it? Good question. My students used to think this was very unfair.

What do you think?

dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it is of paramount importance. Just imagine how the political climate and landscape might be different if 18 year old Americans could not vote. The shear number of voters that are 18 years of age is quite staggering. This large number of potential voters could conceivably sway local, state, and federal election results.

The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave 18 year old U.S. citizens the right to vote. This was a historic event that had far reaching implications for any potential political candidate. This age group of voters accounts for many first time voters. All political candidates need votes to win elections and campaign managers admit that this segment of the population is very much sought after.

The Amendment was controversial because America was at war. Young men were dying in foreign lands. The Vietnam war was on  the forefront of most Americans minds and was the topic of conversation at many lunch counters.

Examine the most recent presidential election. Mr. Obama's team no doubt tried, and some say succeeded, at getting the word out to young voters.

martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 26th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted on July 1, 1971.  It is a very short amendment which states that the right to vote cannot be denied to anyone eighteen years of age or older on account of age.  Before this, the age for voting in some areas was 21. This amendment was passed in response to the Vietnam War.  There was a draft in the U.S. and the government was drafting men 18 years and older.  Many felt that it was unfair for the government to draft someone who had no say in the election of the people making that decision.  Therefore, this amendment was added to the Constitution.

I would say it is a very important amendment for young people. They can have a say in who is elected to office and can influence elections, if they choose to vote.  In the most recent presidential election, many believed the youth vote was partially responsible for Barack Obama’s victory.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I know this particular amendment gives every citizen over 18 the right to vote and I think the right to vote is a wonderful thing.   But, can we really trust the inexperienced 18-year-old to know what's best for this country in the way of important law and political issues?  I mean, really--how much do they know?  Most of the 18-year-olds I know right now just want to listen to their ipods, text their friends, and go have fun!  Not that all of them are that way, but a vast majority of them are! 

It's one thing to be eighteen and go serve in the military, where someone else pretty much tells you where to go and what to do.  But, in the case of having a say in how this country is run, I'd feel better if those casting the vote were all over the age of 21!

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I appreciate 18-year-olds who have the right to vote and do so.  I like the fact that kids are generally still in school at this point in their lives and, I hope, get some encouragement to go and exercise that right.  I'm hopeful that young people who start to vote from the beginning will continue that practice throughout their lives.

Now my fear.  Young people anxious to do this very adult thing may not do anything to inform themselves of their choices.  (It's surely true there are many adults who do the same, and that's even more inexcusable, of course.)

Any time we have a right and a privilege and don't avail ourselves of it, I say shame on us. 

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an important amendment to me in part because the students I teach are mostly 17 and 18 year olds, and I teach American Government.  This makes it much more meaningful for them and easier to motivate them on issues because they get to participate in the voting process, sometimes in class itself.  Students get the sense that, as seniors, they are becoming part of the system, part of adulthood, as they are encouraged to participate in elections they feel truly affect them.  It's fun.