On July 1, 1971, the 26th Amendment was ratified in the United States, giving 18 year olds the right to vote. Prior to the amendment, the voting age in the United States was 21 years old. The idea of giving 18 year olds the right to vote picked up traction during World War II, but was introduced as an amendment largely due to American involvement in the Vietnam War, where thousands of American men were drafted into the military between the ages of 18-20. The phrase “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became popular, as more and more Americans soon began to realize that men, as well as women, were being called to fight for their country without having any say in the people who sent them off to fight.
Today, youth voters (18-29 years of age) have the opportunity to make impactful decisions that will greatly influence the trajectory of this country, as more and more young adults have begun voting in recent years. In the 2018 midterm elections, voter turnout for people aged 18-29 increased dramatically, with over 30 percent of eligible voters casting ballots. Hopefully, that trend will continue to rise as young adults begin to understand the impact they have on the future of the United States as a country.
At Saint Patrick High School, eligible seniors are taking the necessary steps to register to vote before Election Day on Tuesday, November 3. Senior Scot Zabielski has already registered and is very excited about the prospect of voting in this year’s presidential election. “It means a lot to vote for the very first time,” Zabielski said. “It’s like the coming of age. It’s very special because it feels like I have a voice.” In addition, senior Andrew Tomlin has also registered to vote and is ready to make an impact in this country. “It means a lot to vote in this election. It’s good to know that I can make an impact in society.”
A survey of 76 Saint Patrick seniors found that 18 (24%) said that they turn 18 years old on or before Election Day. Out of those 18, nine (50%) said they are currently registered to vote while eight seniors (44%) stated that they plan to register to vote. At Saint Patrick High School, a majority of our eligible seniors plan to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election and want to make a difference in our country.