During the 2022 midterm elections, voters from Gen Z, the youngest voting-eligible generation, overwhelmingly voted for Democrats. The youth turnout is generally credited for playing a part in Democrats’ better-than-expected midterm results.
Since the midterms, some Republicans have called for raising the voting age to 21, such as in this tweet viewed more than 4 million times.
Can individual states raise their minimum voting age?
No, individual states cannot raise their minimum voting age.
WHAT WE FOUND
Individual states cannot raise the minimum voting age because it was set by a federal constitutional amendment. Raising the voting age above 18 would require a new constitutional amendment.
The 26th Amendment was ratified in 1971. It says the right to vote for a person 18 years old or older shall not be “denied or abridged” based on age by the federal government or any state government.
That prevents the president, Congress, all governors, all state legislatures and all local governments from raising the voting age.
The only way to repeal an amendment or even change the words of a preexisting amendment is through another amendment, the Constitution Center says. But that’s only happened once — the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol.
There are only two ways to propose an amendment to the Constitution, the U.S. Senate says. They can be proposed by Congress through a joint resolution passed by a two-thirds vote or by a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the state legislatures. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention, the National Archives says.
Once an amendment is proposed, it won’t pass until it is ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. So, 38 states would have to agree on it before any state is allowed to raise its voting age above 18.
It’s worth noting that the same restriction doesn’t apply for reducing the voting age. For example, in some parts of Maryland, 16-year-olds can vote in local elections, and some states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they turn 18 before the general election.