The Voting Age

September 9, 1944

Report Outline
Movement to Lower the Voting Age
The Voting Age and the Draft Age
Public Opinion on Extension of Franchise
Special Focus

Movement to Lower the Voting Age

In the 1944 national election, for the first time in the history of the Republic, men and women less than 21 years of age will be permitted to vote in one of the states of the American Union. Georgia reduced the voting age to 18 years in 1943 by constitutional amendment; in all other states citizens must have passed their 21st birthdays before becoming eligible to vote in federal, state or local elections. Georgia, one of the 13 original states, is usually classed as one of the most conservative of the 48 American commonwealths.

Because Georgia's electoral votes are assured to the candidate of the Democratic party, the lowering of the voting age for citizens of the state will have no effect upon the outcome of the 1944 presidential election. However, extension of the franchise to the 18–20 year age group by this state in the heart of the Solid South is only one of many evidences of a growing movement to grant voting rights to the generation which is now playing an important role in defense of democracy on the field of battle. Reduction of the voting age to 18 in all states would increase the electorate by about one-tenth and would change the political complexion of many areas if the new voters aligned themselves preponderantly with one or the other of the two major parties.

Voting-Age Proposals in Congress and Legislatures

Since the lowering of the draft age to 18 years in 1942, seven separate proposals to lower the voting age in all states to 18 years have been offered in Congress. Two resolutions to amend the federal Constitution to this end have been introduced in the Senate and five in the House. A sixth House resolution would lower the voting age to 19 instead of 18 years. These proposals are now pending before the Judiciary committees of the two houses. Approval by two-thirds votes in the Senate and House, and ratification by three-fourths of the states, would be required to make any one of them a part of the federal Constitution.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Military Draft
Aug. 19, 2005  Draft Debates
Jan. 11, 1991  Should the U.S. Reinstate the Draft?
Jun. 13, 1980  Draft Registration
Jun. 20, 1975  Volunteer Army
Nov. 17, 1971  Rebuilding the Army
Nov. 18, 1970  Expatriate Americans
Mar. 20, 1968  Resistance to Military Service
Jun. 22, 1966  Draft Law Revision
Jan. 20, 1965  Reserve Forces and the Draft
Feb. 14, 1962  Military Manpower Policies
Jun. 03, 1954  Military Manpower
Sep. 24, 1952  National Health and Manpower Resources
Oct. 24, 1950  Training for War Service
Aug. 21, 1950  Manpower Controls
Aug. 13, 1945  Peacetime Conscription
Sep. 09, 1944  The Voting Age
Apr. 15, 1944  Universal Military Service
Feb. 17, 1942  Compulsory Labor Service
Jun. 11, 1941  Revision of the Draft System
Aug. 14, 1940  Conscription in the United States
Apr. 24, 1939  Conscription for Military Service
Voting and Suffrage