Forty years ago, our nation opened the doors of democracy to millions of Americans. By extending the right to vote – the most fundamental right of a citizen in a democratic society – to Americans age 18 and older, we offered our youth the responsibility and opportunity to participate; we placed the power of the ballot in their hands, empowering generations of students and young people to determine their own destiny.
The 26th amendment ensured that the leaders of tomorrow – our future workers and business owners, entrepreneurs and public servants – recognize that elections are as much about them as their parents and grandparents. Whether it’s making health care more affordable; investing in schools and student aid; creating jobs or balancing the budget – Americans of all ages have a stake in the decisions of their elected representatives.
Four decades after the ratification of the 26th amendment, the fight for voting rights goes on. Today, state legislatures across the country are pushing new legislation that threatens to disenfranchise millions of voters, especially students and minority communities. These actions contradict our core democratic principles and betray our values as a people.
Democrats will stand firm for the basic right of every American to vote and choose their own leaders. We will uphold the central promise of the 26th amendment: that ‘the right of citizens of the United States…to vote shall not be denied or abridged.’