A pamphlet that activists in New Jersey used to gain support for lowering the voting age to 18 in 1969. There is a similar effort underway today to lower it again to 16.
“JAMESBURG, N.J. — Stuart Goldstein still has the red-and-white bumper stickers and other artifacts from 1969, when he helped persuade New Jersey lawmakers that 18-year-olds should be able to vote. He was 18 himself then, working with two other college students, David DuPell and Ken Norbe, to build a political network that grew to 10,000 volunteers. They took students to Trenton in busloads and even sneaked into a Richard Nixon rally seeking his support. Theirs was an early salvo in a movement that would end in 1971 with the ratification of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. Fifty years later, there is a nascent movement to change the voting age again — this time to 16 — but there are some big differences between the efforts. Then, liberal and conservative activists united behind a powerful argument that went back to World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the draft age to 18: Young people were being conscripted to fight America’s wars but couldn’t vote in its elections. Today, there is no similarly popular argument. Indeed, a recent poll found that 75 percent of registered voters opposed letting 17-year-olds vote, and 84 percent opposed it for 16-year-olds. In March, when Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts proposed a 16-year-old voting age amendment to House Democrats’ sweeping voting rights bill, it failed 126 to 305, with almost half of her fellow Democrats voting against it and only one Republican in support. … 1969: ‘Old enough to fight’. By the time New Jersey took it up in 1969, the voting age had been on the national radar for decades because of the draft. Through World War II, Korea and the early years of Vietnam, every president suggested it should change. But it didn’t — until the 1960s knocked American politics off its axis. The activism of the era made it easy to mobilize liberals and students, many of whom were already involved in the antiwar and civil rights movements. ‘People were pretty revved up during that time to get involved in something,’ said Mr. DuPell, who started the New Jersey campaign and recruited Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Norbe to join him. But campus unrest and violent protests helped fuel pushback that they were too immature to vote. …”