‘Your Voice Matters, Your Vote Matters, You Matter’

The 26th Amendment and Youth Voting


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It has been 50 years since the 26th Amendment was passed. Associate Professor of Political Science Bobbi Gentry gave a lecture on The 26th Amendment and Youth Voting: You(th) can make a difference as a part of Bridgewater College’s celebration of the constitution.

Allysia Morehouse, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – This year marks 50 years since the 26th Amendment was added to the constitution. This amendment gave 18-20 year olds the right to vote.

Associate Professor of Political Science Bobbi Gentry gave a lecture on “The 26th Amendment and Youth Voting: You(th) Can Make a Difference” as a part of BC’s celebration of the constitution. The lecture was held on Sept. 16 in the Boitnott room.

“There’s a lot of change that young people can create in the world and make a difference in the world. One of the easiest ways to do that is through voting,” said Gentry. “If we’re going to deal with these complex complicated issues or issues of systematic institutional challenges, then we need young people to vote in elections, to be heard, to be listened to, but also to make a difference.”

The start of her lecture contained the information of how the 26th Amendment came into effect. One of the most well known quotes of a protest was “old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” The 26th Amendment is the fastest passed amendment in history.

States made rules about residency after the amendment was ratified to further challenge youth voters from being able to participate. During the lecture, Gentry talked about her own experience with states trying to prohibit her from voting in her local elections.

“It’s important to recognize what will actually get your peers to come out and vote regardless of who they vote for, because who you vote for is going to impact so much in local politics,” said senior Kylee Lorio.

“Youth voting studies and what impacts people to come out to vote,” are what interested first-year Max Cartwell in the lecture.

Gentry described a cycle of youth voters and politicians. Younger voters do not want to vote, because they do not see politicians talking about issues that concern them. Politicians do not talk about issues that concern youth voters, because they do not see as many votes from their demographic. Due to this, every year since 2000, funding for schools has decreased — leading to an increase in tuition.

This last presidential election actually created a new record for the 26th Amendment. The record high was 45 percent of youth voters, achieved in the first presidential election after the amendment was passed. The 2020 presidential election broke that record for a new high of 48 percent.

“Your voice matters, your vote matters, you matter, ” stressed Gentry to her audience.