The 26th Amendment and the History of the Youth Vote

Learn about the story that became history.


A few strokes before midnight on July 1, 1971, Ohio and North Carolina ratified the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, thereby lowering the voting age to 18 years old. It was the fastest of any constitutional amendment to be ratified, but the grassroots movement behind the 26th was decades in the making.

Through rare archival footage and exclusive interviews with key lawmakers and stakeholders, “The 26th Amendment: The Long Road to the Fastest Ratification” documents the history of the youth vote and the story of the journey to ratify the 26th Amendment. The documentary takes an in-depth look at the organizing strategies and coalition politics that helped expand voting rights in the United States.


This free documentary makes an ideal classroom resource for discussing the importance of voting and elections. Students have the chance to hear directly from the people who made history, including:

  • Representative Earl Blumenauer
  • Jay Berman, aide to Senator Birch Bayh
  • Former Senator Paul Kirk, aide to Senator Edward Kennedy
  • Ian MacGowan and Patricia Keefer, Youth Franchise Coalition
  • Carolyn Quilloin Coleman, NAACP
  • Les Francis and Charles Gonzales, National Education Association