Charleston, W.Va. — In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt and the United States Congress reduced the military draft age for young men from 21 to 18 in an effort to bolster the nation's troop support during World War II. Twenty-nine years later in 1971, the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution passed reducing the voting age from 21 to 18.
"If you're old enough to fight and die for your country, then you're old enough to vote,"em> said the late U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia. Randolph is considered to be the "Father of the 26th Amendment" for his nearly three-decade effort to reduce the voting age to 18.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 26th Amendment. As part of the state's commemoration of the anniversary, WV Secretary of State Mac Warner announced today that a special day has been set aside to focus on voter registration for eligible 17, 18, 19 and 20-year-olds throughout West Virginia.
On April 28, 1971 the West Virginia Legislature ratified the 26th Amendment making West Virginia the 27th state to do so. It only took 100 days for the 38 states required for ratification for the 26th Amendment to become law.
On April 28th of this year, Secretary Warner and our county clerks are encouraging every public and private high school in West Virginia to encourage their eligible 17 and 18-year-old students to register to vote. Those schools that register at least 85% of their eligible students will be recognized with the prestigious Jennings Randolph Award for civic engagement.
"We want young voters to know that their participation in our election process is welcomed here in West Virginia,"em> said Secretary Warner. "If we can encourage our young people to register now, they are more likely to become active voters the rest of their lives."
Information on how a high school can host a voter registration drive and monitor the success of their student registration can be found at this link: Jennings Randolph Award
Eligible students will be encouraged to register to vote online any time during the day on April 28th through the Secretary of State's secure online portal found at GoVoteWV.com. The portal allows any citizen to register to vote or to update their current registration 24-hours a day. Students without a DMV-issued ID card or driver’s license may download the mail-in application on GoVoteWV.com or request it from their county clerk.
Since becoming Secretary of State in January of 2017, Secretary Warner has worked with all 55 county clerks to register nearly 246,000 new voters in West Virginia which includes more than 67,000 eligible high school students.
For more information on West Virginia's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 26th Amendment click on this link:West Virginia’s Commemoration of the 26th Amendment