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Several individuals have testified here today that the major factor in defeating this issue is campus unrest. The image of young people 18 to 21 years of age is distorted by the militant 1 percent which has unfortunately received the most exposure. The average voter identifies with basically three different young people, his own son, the son of his neighbor, and what we call the “media kid." In the majority of cases the association with the first two is positive, with the latter negative. Due to the influence of today's media, and the breakdown in family structure, most adults see more of this stereotype "media kid,” than members of their own family.
The second major reason why the issue has been defeated in the States in which it has been submitted to the voters for consideration is the inability of its proponents to mount an effective campaign. This is due primarily to the fact that there is no substantial economic interest in the issue and that young people have available no resources other than their own energies.
Despite the fact that recent surveys indicate that the majority of Americans favor a lower voting age. The defeats in individual State campaigns which we have been discussing here have cast a negative atmosphere on the whole issue and this has made it extremely difficult to interest individuals and organizations to work actively in support of it. Specifically, special interest groups have failed to provide the monetary or organizational support necessary. As an example, more money was expended in the Ohio campaign than any other State campaign. There the total amount spent was $25,000. This is a State where $150,000 is considered a minimal amount for an issue campaign and where candidates in recent State-wide elections have spent as much as a million dollars. It is clear that if there is to be any hope for passage of this issue on the State level, independent of congressional action, economic interest must be identified and committed to meaningful participation.
The fourth major reason for defeat of this issue in recent years has been its identification with other issues not directly related. Opponents of the issue rather than face the proposal squarely on its own merits inevitably attempt to confuse the electorate with reference to such issues as the age of majority, the drinking age, jury service, and the
age for eligibility to hold public office. Until this issue can be submitted to the voters without the confusion of these separate, and independent issues, a lower voting age stands no chance of passage on the State level.
I am convinced that the inequity which develops when States set their own ages for voting rights must be erased. When the situation arises where an 18-year-old in Covington, Ky., can influence national politics with the exercise of his vote, while an 18-year-old in Cincinnati, Ohio just a mile across the Ohio River is denied this right the inequity must surely be apparent.
Considering the reasons that I have stated, I would hope that you would understand more clearly the necessity for congressional action which would send to the States for ratification a constitutional amendment establishing unified a voting age of 18 years throughout the entire Nation. I urge your approval on Senate Joint Resolution 147. Thank you.
Senator Bayh. Thank you, Mr. Wideman.
Mr. MacGowax. I would like to introduce Earl Blumenauer now, who is director of the Oregon campaign which is well on its way to what we hope is a victory in May.
Mr. BLUMEXAC'ER. Thank you.
I have listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks that have been made today because they are dealing with issues on questions that we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis in the State of Oregon. I would suggest that our experience in Oregon would indicate two distinct benefits from those of the proposed constitutional amendment you gentlemen are considering at this point in time.
First, I think the manner in which the young people in the State of Oregon have conducted themselves in their efforts to secure passage of this referendum gives credence to the arguments that we have heard today that young people are responsible, are capable of grasping the political realities and functioning within the system.
Secondly, I would suggest that the process of enacting such an amendment into law would be a valuable exercise in promoting the better communication, better understanding between diverse elements in our society.
I would like very briefly to give you a short history of what has happened in the State of Oregon in the last 14 months and then I would like to suggest three specific benefits that I think would accrue from the proposed constitutional amendment process.
What started in the State of Oregon as a project of high school students in analyzing the issue of lowering the voting age developed, they carried it from the classroom to the State Capital, and from there they were joined in their efforts by young people all over the State of Oregon, from high schools and college campuses. It took an upswing when they were joined by lobbies from a wide variety of interest groups, and after 5 months of old fashioned arm-bending and discussion it was submitted in the form of a referendum.
Then the nature of the campaign changed to become voter oriented and while the bulk of the campaign is still ahead of us, as a result of setting up over 50 high school and college chapters around the State, as a result of forging a coalition of a vast variety of professional organizations, businessmen, and politicians, I am convinced that young people, in putting this together, have indicated that they do deserve the right to vote.
Last I would like to suggest, as I indicated, three reasons why I feel it would be beneficial to have this Federal amendment acted upon. First of all, I think it would be a strong indication that the system is ameanable to change within. In the State of Oregon, and I think as we have heard this morning, elsewhere, there is a strong disenchantment on behalf of young people. They feel a sense of powerlessness. Even the progress we have seen to date here before your committee is an indication that considered efforts directed by young people indicates that there can be change within the system.
Second, I think that the process of ratification would afford an opportunity to clearly present a defense of today's youth on a Nationwide basis. Were the procedure we are discussing here today on this issue carried on among the several States I would think that the favorable press generated, the activity involved in bringing them to testify, in and of itself, would help promote this healthy type of discussion that many of your witnesses have felt is important.
Last, but not least, I would suggest that a constitutional amendment might well have the effect of promoting the cooperative efforts in a time of desperate divisions. In Oregon the campaign to lower the voting age has created the broad sort of coalition that transcends racial and generational and political barriers. I would suggest that by working together in support of this common goal we are giving a preview of the type of coalition that is going to have to be estabÎished to deal with the tremendous environmental and social problems that confront us.
In summary, then I am suggesting that first of all our experience in the State of Oregon, in bringing not only young people, but other members of the society into our program, and the way young people have structured it indicates that they are worthy of the privilege of exercising the franchise.
Second, I am suggesting that the many favorable spin-offs that we have seen from this program indicates that similar desirable benefits would be possible were this enacted on a national basis.
Senator Bays. Thank you, Mr. Blumenauer.
Mr. MacGowaX. Alan DiScuillo came to us a year ago asking what he could do. He is a student at Georgetown University. For the past year he has been overseeing a team of research students from Georgetown University who are doing original research on the issue that has never been done before.
STATEMENT OF ALAN M. DISCUILLO YOUTH FRANCHISE
Mr. Chairman and committee members, my name is Alan DiSciullo. I am Researcher with the Youth Franchise Coalition. As a 19-yearold working directly on the national campaign, I am vitally interested in the issue.
Since 1942, the subject of youth enfranchisement has been a recurring topic of discussion in the halls of Congress. While I have no desire to launch into a history of 18-year-old vote legislation or recapitulate the standard arguments for lowering the voting age, I feel an examination and analysis of the negative approaches to the topic of extending the Franchise would be appropriate at this time. In the light of the recent defeats of referendum in Ohio and New Jersey and the past failures of voting legislation in the Congress a thorough investigation into the arguments against extending voting rights to America's young people is necessary.
Briefly, the opposition to lowering the voting age centers around three basic "arguments”: (1) The doubts as to the maturity and responsibility of youth in exercising the franchise, (2) an adverse reaction to youth caused by recent campus disorders, (3) the belief that setting voting rights standards properly belongs in the realm of the state law. A fourth area of contention concerning the poor record of voter participation among youths 18–20 is covered in a supplementary analysis to this testimony.
When discussing youth voting rights, a frequent objection arises in regard to the maturity of those individuals between 18–21. Would it be prudent to extend voting privileges to individuals 18 years old, based on the responsibility and maturity they have thus far demonstrated? Many individuals would reply in the negative, and it appears that this negative attitude has been the cause of past Congressional defeats of legislation, proposing lowering the voting age to 18,
The problem lies in the fact that maturity is ill-defined, and ambiguous definitions are glibly tossed around. Whereas a single individual may consider youth to be inexperienced and immature, over 80 percent of the adults polled in a recent Yankelovich survey felt that young people demonstrated sufficient maturity. When maturity is taken in the context of political awareness—which in this case I feel it should be the case for youth is strengthened. Our young people are concerned about national priorities. Their active participation in political campaigns and civil rights movements as well as the similar activities verifies that. The orderly conduct almost always shown by young citizens in these ventures far exceeds the irrationality and, often times, immaturity of their elders at political conventions and in election campaigns. While in no way testifying to the level-headedness of young people, the above example indicates that a double standard is in effect with regard to the judgment of youth.
Recent concern over student disorder has reached a high level. Overall, campus demonstrations have resulted in a significant reduction of youth oriented legislation. In 1969, proposals in both Ohio and New Jersey were defeated in referenda. The Ohio analysis showed that in 11 of the 14 counties where major colleges or universities are located, the referendum suffered defeat. Until the turmoil of the universities subsides, 18-year-olds will be without a vote.
"Student dissent”, in the words of eminent educator Henry Steele Commager, “is no more than a reflection of the pervasive frustration, outrage and despair of the young at the Vietnamese war, the inequalities of the draft, the armaments race, destruction of the environment and racial injustice.” Today's youth have a genuine interest in social and political improvement. Yet all too often the archaic voting-age limitations drive them to seek alternate, sometimes violent, means to make their views felt. Opposition to a lower voting age on the grounds of student disorders amounts to the fallacy of begging the question. A recent survey of college campuses by 22 Republican Congressmen discusses this area and concludes that without sufficient political influence, they often turn to the streets and violence.
The question still remains as to the advantages of Federal action to lower the voting age as opposed to lowering it through individual State action. President Richard M. Nixon was once quoted as saying, "While I have strongly favored extension of the franchise to 18-year olds in this country ** * I have also believed that this decision is one that remains the proper province of the individual states of the Union.” On this stand, Mr. Nixon has a great deal of support.
However, in light of the established precedents and the recent surge of voting rights legislation, it seems paradoxical that the 18