SECTION 1. The right to vote in federal, state, and local elections is denied to citizens of the United States younger than eighteen years of age, and to noncitizens.
SECTION 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Constitution lists very few qualifications for the highest officers of American government, but two qualifying elements stand out: age and citizenship.
Article I, Section 2 declares, “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States.”
Likewise, Article I, Section 3 declares, “No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States.”
Finally, Article II, Section 1 declares, “No Person except a natural born Citizen…shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years.”
Clearly, not only was general life experience thought essential to empower a person to govern wisely, but there was also demanded a certain measure of sustained — in the case of the President, even original — allegiance to the United States.
But while the Constitution enacts these demands on officeholders, it oddly places no such demands on the voters who must elect such persons to office. Perhaps the Founding Fathers presumed that Americans would never be so unwise as to permit those without sufficient life experience and/or without full allegiance to this country to vote. If so, they presumed wrongly.
Although not set in the Constitution, the expected minimum voting age in the United States at its founding was 21, as evidenced by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment. An actual expected minimum voting age was not encoded in the Constitution until 1971 with the passage of the 26th Amendment, which lowered that age from an assumed 21 to an explicit 18. But even this “minimum age” is not a true minimum. The 26th Amendment guarantees the right to vote of those 18 and older, but it says nothing about the right to vote of anyone under the age of 18. Therefore, Congress and the States can deny that right to under-18s…but they can also grant it.
The 26th Amendment was passed largely because of the perceived unfairness in having permitted the government to draft 18-year-olds into the Vietnam War without giving them a say in how that government was run. If “no taxation without representation” was a fair enough complaint to trigger the American Revolution, “no military service without representation” seemed a more-than-fair-enough complaint to require amending the Constitution. And so the voting age was lowered to give those being shot at a say in appointing persons who would decide what causes were worth getting shot at over.
But since the recent spate of mass shootings in the U.S., several of which targeted schoolchildren around the country, some people have gotten the mistaken impression that getting shot at under any circumstances ought to reward one with a vote. Instead of recognizing that requiring one’s participation in government service ought to merit one a voice in government, simply being used for target practice by any garden-variety psycho is supposed to procure the same merit. Sorry, kids, but that’s not how life works. In the real world, you need a decent measure of experience under your belt with how life is before you can be trusted to inform society how life ought to be. The Founding Fathers knew this, and we should not forget it.
Likewise, the privilege of determining how a state or nation ought to run should belong exclusively to its citizens. Yet federal law only blocks noncitizen voting in certain circumstances, and in recent years nearly a dozen attempts have been made to establish noncitizen voting rights in several states…and even in our nation’s capital! Some states already allow noncitizen voting in local elections — Maryland being the worst offender.
By setting a hard minimum voting age of 18 and requiring that only citizens be allowed to vote, the Qualified Voters Amendment will restore the Founding Fathers’ view that both age and allegiance to our nation matter in determining how our government should be run.
The Cultural Bill Of Rights
–CBOR-7Y: The Seven Years Amendment
–CBOR-RF: The Religious Freedom Amendment
–CBOR-2A: The New Second Amendment
–CBOR-CP: The Capital Punishment Amendment
–CBOR-ED: The Eminent Domain Amendment
–CBOR-17: The Senate Restoration Amendment
–CBOR-SC: The Supreme Court Amendment
–CBOR-QV: The Qualified Voters Amendment
–CBOR-GS: The Gender Standardization Amendment
–CBOR-MS: The Marriage Standardization Amendment
–CBOR-PM: The Protection of Minors Amendment