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Akron L. Rev.


The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution is an appropriate moment to reflect on the history—and consider the future—of the right to vote in the United States. High school and college classes teach the nation’s suffrage story as integral to our identity, focusing on the enfranchisement of women under the 19th Amendment and African Americans pursuant to the 15th Amendment.1 Constitutional law courses also present the 15th Amendment as foundational knowledge for the legal profession.2 Critical legal theory and women’s legal history texts frequently cover the 19th Amendment as central to understanding the first wave of feminism in this country. In all these accounts, one important group of voters—and efforts relating to their election law rights—gets left out. That group is youth.4 In 1971, when the 26th Amendment was ratified, the minimum voting age dropped nationwide from 21 to 18—granting additional citizenship privileges to millions in this country.5 Now, nearly 50 years later, we find ourselves riding another wave of advocacy around youth suffrage. Today many are calling for further expansion of youth voting rights to allow those as young as 16 to cast their ballots