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Celebrate the 26th Amendment but there's more to do to fulfill its promise

Robert Brandon, our president & CEO, issued the following statement on the 50th Anniversary of the 26th Amendment:


Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the ratification of the 26th Amendment—a constitutional guarantee that provided 18-year-olds the right to vote in all U.S. elections. While this is a day to be celebrated, it’s equally important to recognize that barriers to voting facing young people, particularly college students, have interfered with fulfilling the full promise of the 26th Amendment.


Young voters have always led on important issues, from climate change to racial equity and criminal justice reform. We’re better off as a country when their concerns are reflected fully at the ballot box.


Younger voters have turned out in record numbers for several election cycles, including an 11 point increase from 39 percent to 50 percent for 2020 over 2016. We should be following the lead of the states that are adopting policies welcoming the newest members of our democracy into the process. Unfortunately, however, some politicians are responding to the outpouring of young voters, with un-American actions to stifle their voices and attack their right to vote.


Arbitrary photo ID laws that exclude student IDs and archaic registration restrictions are two common roadblocks younger voters have had to overcome to have their voices heard at the ballot box. Now, the tsunami of voter suppression bills flooding states across the nation, coupled with anti-democratic forces in the Senate using the filibuster to block major voting rights legislation, further threaten their freedom to vote.


If our democracy is to endure, we must secure voting rights for all of our citizens, including younger voters, the future decision makers of our nation. Congress should celebrate this anniversary by passing the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Acts, so the promise of the 26th Amendment can be assured for the next generation and all those that follow.

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