50 Years Ago, Voting Age Lowered to 18 Due to Youth Protests

by on July 6, 2021 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, History, San Diego

From today’s San Diego Union-Tribune

In July 1971, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution became law. The amendment, which had passed through Congress and been ratified by the states, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

An estimated 11 million young Americans between 18 and 21 became eligible under the new age limit.

The youth vote had a noticeable effect in San Diego. Because of their 2-1 preference for the Democratic Party, 18-, 19-and 20-year-olds were credited with giving Democrats a lead over the Republicans in voter registration in San Diego County’ for the first time since 1966.

In November, Maureen O’Connor, a 25-year-old Rosary’ High School teacher, credited young voters for her upset victory in the 2nd District City’ Council race. O’Connor was the only woman and the youngest candidate in the race.

What is not mentioned in the SDU-T article is that Nixon and the government felt compelled to lower the voting age limit due to the unprecedented wave of student protests after Nixon invaded Cambodia in late April of 1970, setting off the May Rebellion, the Kent State Massacre and clashes across the country between young people and law enforcement.


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