What is Constitution Day?

Constitution Day is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the constitution in 1787. All publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on Constitution Day.

Constitution Day 2012 Theme: Should the 26 Amendment Be Repealed?

The 26th amendment, extending voting rights to 18, 19, and 20 year old citizens was ratified in 1971 amid discontent towards the Vietnam War, though the idea of lowering the minimum voting age to 18 was first proposed by President Eisenhower in 1954 State of Union Address.  Like Eisenhower before them, many citizens believed that if you were old enough to be drafted into military service, you should have a voice in selecting the political leaders who make decisions about military intervention.   Congress passed the amendment on March 23, 1971 and ratification became official on July 1, 1971.  The 26th amendment was ratified faster than any other Constitutional amendment, a sign of its overwhelming popularity at the time.

1972 marks the first presidential election year that this group was able to vote, and 48.2 percent of them turned out to cast a ballot.  Since then, turnout among 18- 20 year olds experienced a steady decline, reaching its lowest point in 2000 with only 28.4 percent turnout.  However, turnout rates in 2004 and 2008 rebounded to nearly 41 percent in both elections.  As low as these turnout rates seem, they are drastically lower in Midterm, state, and local elections.

In recent years, there have been minor rumblings - though no bills have been introduced in Congress - that we should once again raise the minimum voting age.  Beyond low voter turnout rates, some of the most commonly cited reasons are:  there is no active military draft, young people lack “real world” experience, and younger voters are too uniformed about political issues.   Though it seems unlikely to happen, what would the effects be of repealing the 26th amendment?

Constitution Day Events at UMSL

September 12:    Deadline for Constitution Day Videos. For more information about the video contest, please see the links below.

September 17:    Online Voting: Student Choice Video

September 18:    Online Voting: Student Choice Video

September 19:    Online Voting: Student Choice Video

September 20:    Online Voting: Student Choice Video