“Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote”

Prior to March 1971 the voting age in the U.S. was 21. Voting age had been hotly contested since World War II, when men too young to vote were being drafted into military service.

“For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons.”
Dwight Eisenhower, the first U.S. President to support lowering the voting age to 18; 1954 State of the Union

Debates over Voting Age

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the minimum age for the military draft to 18. Because the voting age at that time was still 21, the slogan “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote” became the rallying cry among many who felt that it was unfair to expect young men from 18-20 to potentially risk their lives serving their country in the battlefield without having the right to vote for the government that was conscripting them.

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Source: The Sixties Project

Jennings Randolph, a congressman and later a senator from West Virginia, introduced federal legislation to lower the voting age in 1942. Jennings would go on to introduce such legislation eleven more times during his career, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

In 1943 Georgia became the first state to lower its voting age in state and local elections from 21 to 18.