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of the Middle Atlantic Region of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. We appreciate very much both of you coming, and letting us have the benefit of your thoughts.

Mr. Brown, I know, has been particularly active and has tremendous appreciation of the feelings and the concerns of young people today, and I think it most appropriate that both of you take the time to share these thoughts with us for our record.



Mr. Brown. Thank you very kindly, sir.

Senator Cook. Mr. Chairman, before they begin, may I say that I do plan to make a speech on the floor at noon on this subject, and if I have to get up and leave I want you to know and to please excuse me, but it is for the purposes for which we are here, and I am going to move my form, at least, over to the floor of the Senate at 12 o'clock.

So, I did not want to get up and walk out on you.
Mr. Brown. Thank you very kindly.

Senator Bayh and honorable members of the United States Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, I am pleased to have this opportunity to testify before you this morning in favor of Federal action to lower the voting age to 18.

I come to you this morning representing the Nation's oldest, largest and most effective civil rights organization, the NAACP. Especially do I represent its youth and college division where I serve as national director and which has a national membership of more than 67,000 young Americans, many of whom are between the ages of 18 and 21, and are, therefore, needlessly disenfranchised save those who reside in the States of Georgia, Kentucky, Alaska, and Hawaii, in which the voting age has been lowered already.

The NAACP has a long and glorious history of seeking to redress grievances of the blacks, the poor, the downtrodden, and the “victims” of unfair and illegal actions and deeds.

The disenfranchisement of approximately 10 million young Americans deserves, warrants and demands the attention of the NAACP. We can find no moral, legal, or political reason to justify keeping these young people on the outside of the decisionmaking arena of this country.

In a statement released March 12, 1969, our executive director, Roy Wilkins, made the following observation:

Any sound expansion of the electorate is to be welcomed. Throughout its 60year history, the NAACP has consistently worked for expansion of the vote.

Early in this century we campaigned in behalf of women's suffrage. Our efforts to eliminate barriers to voting by Negro citizens and the propertyless are even more well known.

There is no evidence that the age 21 automatically confers electoral wisdom upon an individual. Young people 18 years of age now have virtually full legal liability in all of the States. They assume the major responsibilities in life

and death in combat with our Armed Forces. It is difficult to see how in all justice they can be denied their manifest wish to join in settling the burning issues of the day at the ballot box.

Perhaps aside from the moral argument, the soundest offering I could present to this distinguished committee this morning would be the intellectual argument that today more than 80 percent of the 10 million plus young Americans between the ages of 18 and 21 have completed high school, with 40 or 45 percent of these continuing their educational growth at the college level.

President Richard M. Nixon on May 6, 1968, made the following statement:

It's not because they are old enough to fight but because they are intelligent enough to cast an informed ballot. The new generation is far more educated and knowledgeable than its predecessor * * * I strongly favor extension of the franchise to 18-year-olds.

Certainly, the educational attainment of today's 18-year-olds, coupled with involvement and desire, must equal their right to full participation in our democracy.

I need not remind this committee, I am sure, of the many legal responsibilities--most of which were unsought, I might add—that are accorded to 18-vear-olds in America.

In most States, 18-year-olds are held legally responsible for purposes of contracts and before the courts of law. Young Americans are taxed like other Americans and, therefore, contribute significantly to the economy of this country yet youthful Americans unlike most other Americans are denied their right to participate in decisionmaking as it pertains to electing the leaders of our great country and deciding issues. The cry of "taxation without representation" continues to have a voice in this country. For indeed, young Americans between 18 and 21 years are taxed without having the opportunity of helping decide who their representatives in our Government will be.

Again, I would like to reiterate my earlier contention:

"We, in the NAACP, can find no logical, moral, legal or political reason to justify the continued denial of the ballot to 18-year-olds."

Lastly, I would like to call to the attention of this committee the rampant frustration that is prevalent among young people today and what I consider the chief reason for the same. Young Americans are no longer willing to sit on the sidelines while the events affecting "their destiny are being played on the field.” Youth has said in a resounding voice, they are going to help shape their own destiny as well as that of their country.

To further emphasize this point, this past April, the NAACP sponsored a National Youth Mobilization Conference to seek to have the voting age lowered to 18. Our conference was headquartered here in the Nation's Capital and attracted more than 3,000 youth, both black and white, representing some 40 organizations and 33 States including the District of Columbia.

For 2 days, the 21st and 22d of April, these youth heard speakers pledge their support including your distinguished chairman, Senator Bayħ, as well as lobbied on a face-to-face basis with their representatives here in Congress to make their wishes on the question of "Vote-18" known.

The only question that remains to be answered is: What tools of expression adult America is going to give its youth? The ballot is without question the most potent manner of expression in our democracy. Youth knows this and wants that voice. And we, in the NAACP, admit they should have it.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Bayh. Thank you very much, Mr. Brown.

Why don't we ask Miss Queen if she will give us her statement, and then if we have time I would like to ask you some questions, and I am sure other members of the panel will also.

Miss QUEEN. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments.

I am Philomena Queen, youth regional chairman, Middle Atlantic Region of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and one who has yet to reach the age of 21.

It is my distinct pleasure to have this opportunity to appear before you to exercise the democratic process in seeking to bring swift and equitable redress to a grave injustice.

Like the overwhelming majority of young people between the ages of 18 and 21 and many millions of citizens over the age of 21, I strongly feel that the precision and sacred right to vote should be extended to include young citizens who have reached the age of 18, and I respectfully urge the immediate and favorable recommendation from this committee, that the voting age in Federal, State, and local elections be lowered to age 18.

I recognize and respect the honest opinions of those who feel that age 21 should remain as the magic number to give young citizens the opportunity to effectively participate in the politics of American life and, in effect, help determine our own destiny. I know that it seems revolutionary to some that the voting age should be lowered, but I submit to you that these same feelings existed during the years when women, age 21 and over, were denied the right to vote.

There are many philosophical and factual reasons to be presented in support of lowering the voting age, however, the most simple reasons are that we the voteless minority of this country are intelligent, interested, sensitive to the issues of our society, and have earned the right to be included. There is no justifiable reason for keeping us shut out.

We see in our society wrongs which we want to make right; we see imperfections that we want to make perfect; we dream of things that should be done but are not; we dream of things that have never been done, and we wonder why not. And most of all, we view all of these as conditions that we want to change, but cannot. You have disarmed us of the most constructive and potent weapon of a democratic system—the vote.

I want to share with you some specific reasons in support of lowering the voting age to 18.

1. Age 21 is both arbitrary and hypercritical. Establishing age 21 is arbitrary in that it is not based on any educational or scientific fact. There never, to my knowledge, has been any evidence to support any conclusions that age 21 confers instant electoral wisdom on a voter; nor to the contrary, that all under age 21 are victimized with automatic electoral imprudence.

2. Youth are responsible citizens. Those who reach age 18 are called upon to assume legal responsibilities for social behavior, contracts, payment of taxes, and the military draft. Each of which require the prudent exercise of discretion equally as demanding as that required to make an honest judgment of candidates and examination of the issues on election day.

3. Young people carry the major responsibility in defense of our country. According to the June 1968 statistics of the Department of Defense there were 3,510,000 persons serving in the armed forces of ages 17 through 20, the following to the numerical breakdown: Age 17, 27,000; age 18, 123,000; age 19, 266,000, and age 20, 567,000, for a total of 983,000, or almost one-third concentrated under the age of 21.

Department of Defense statistics as of December, 1969, reveal that of the 40,028 deaths attributed to the Vietnam War, young people under age 21 made the supreme sacrifice in defending “Old Glory” by being the victims of approximately 50 percent of the fatalities, as follows: Age 17, 9 deaths; age 18, 2.413 deaths; age 19, 6,368 deaths, and age 20, 10,421 deaths, for a total of 19,211 deaths.

Another important fact of which many persons are unaware of is that an 18-year-old male is eligible to enroll in officer's candidate school and become an officer in the United States Army. This fact says much for the credibility and character of today's youth.

Young people over the past decade have participated in many forms of protest demonstrations, some of which have been disruptive and destructive. Crime in this country is a major and seemingly cancerous problem. There are those who say that because of crime and demonstrations young people are too irresponsible to use the vote wisely. Such views which stereotype and condemn the majority because of a dislike for the minority is hypercritical and should not be given consideration in determining whether the voting age should the lowered.

Certainly no one would ever think of denying all adults the right to vote because an angry mob of blood-thirsty adults destroyed property and showed utter contempt for the safety of innocent school children riding on a school bus in South Carolina; nor because the troops in the army of organized crime are adults; nor because a 45-year-old-adult is charged with the murder of a 51-year-old business associate.

I do not condone or praise any unlawfulness by those of my generation. However, we see many things which in our opinion are wrong. conditions which we are forced to confront each and every day. We should have a voice and if given the vote, I believe that young people's frustrations will be channelled along the avenue of constructive change, for then we can no longer say it is you who are running the country, for we will be a constructive part of it.

In conclusion, it is very clear that there is no justifiable reason why the arbitrary age of 21 should not be lowered to 18 which would then conform to a clearly identifiable standard for a voting age when American citizens assume both the legal responsibilities as well as the legal rights and privileges of citizenship.

Members of the committee, I respectfully urge that you take the leadership by giving favorable action to support legislation to lower

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the voting age to 18 and thus afford approximately 10 million citizens the opportunity to vote.

Senator BAYH. Thank you very much, Miss Queen.

Both of your statements deal with some of the inequities of the present discrepancy between the fact that we do ask young people to carry significant responsibilities, greater than any other young generation has carried, and yet deny them the right to vote.

Mr. Brown, you pointed out in your statement the fact that young Americans are much better educated than ever before. We have had two or three different philosophies express relative to the way the magic number of 21 was chosen. One of the reasons is because a long time ago, a determination was made that a man was strong enough at the age of 21 to carry all of the equipment of knighthood and thus would be able to go into battle and fight. But, at the same time, our forefathers do not say that when you reach a certain age and are no longer able to carry those same instruments of battle, you then have the vote taken away from you. There are a great many inconsistencies between what we say and do in this area. You know, many of us are concerned about not the frustrations that people have over problems because we are all frustrated in the Congress with our inabilities to really grapple with problems and move forward in some of these areas—but we are a bit concerned by some of the means that are used.

I know I have been guilty of saying: “Let us work in the system; let us make this system respond."

At the same time I think this has a hollow ring to those who are not in the system because they cannot vote.

Do you believe that if you do give young people the right to vote that we are going to see a more wholesome channelling of their energies in this exercise of citizenship through the ballot?

Will we see a change through the precinct organizations of our parties; through running for office, and all of this type of activity ?

Mr. Brown. First of all, Senator, let me say this: I do not envision the ballot or the expansion of the ballot to 18-year-olds as a panacea to remove all of the frustrations that are besetting young people today. However, I do strongly believe, as I have indicated in my prepared text and as Miss Queen said also, that with the expansion of the franchise to 18-year-olds and above, young people will for the first time in this country have an alternative. They will have an option in letting their wishes be known, and I finally believe they are concerned about the questions and problems facing this Nation today and that young people will use their vote to let their wishes be known.

But, again, let me say that I do not envision the ballot to be a cureall, but I do think we will witness a surprisingly large participation on the part of young people.

Senator BAYH. Thank you.
Miss Queen, do you have anything to add to that?
Miss QUEEN. No.

Senator Bayh. Do either of you care to express an opinion relative to the best way to accomplish this, the legal arguments, the constitutional amendment versus the statute ?

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