Are You Too Young to Vote?

 Middle school grades 6-8


 2 one-day lessons including 1 summative assessment



We The People Level 2

  • Lesson 25: How Has the Right to Vote Expanded Since the Constitution Was Adopted?

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework 

  • D2.Civ.8.6-8. Analyze ideas and principles contained in the founding documents of the United States, and explain how they influence the social and political system.
  • D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.

Educating for American Democracy Roadmap

Theme 1: Civic Participation

  • HDQ: What forms does civic participation take? Who has access to different forms of participation, and how has that access changed over time?

Theme 4: A New Government & Constitution

  • HDQ: How did debates about the new U.S. government play out among those who were not formally incorporated in decision-making?


 Should the voting age in the United States be lowered?


  • What factors led to the 26th Amendment?
  • What factors might play a role in lowering the voting age?



  • Examine why the 26th Amendment was adopted
  • Explore arguments in support of and in opposition to lowering the voting age
  • Defend their position on whether the voting age should be lowered

  • conscription: mandatory enrollment for service in a country's armed forces; also called a draft
  • cultural revolution:  era of change in American identity, family unit, sexuality, dress, and the arts during the late 1960s; youth rejected social norms and exhibited their disapproval of racial, ethnic, and political injustices through resistance and revolt
  • civic equality: all persons in a society having the same status in terms of civil rights, freedom of expression, and equal access to various social goods and services
  • consent of the governed:  the idea that a government's legitimacy and moral right is justified and lawful only when agreed to, by the people over which that political power is exercised


With the institution of the Selective Service registration requirement  during World War II, the call to lower the voting age was voiced. Fast forward twenty-five years, and once again the slogan “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” was put forth by student activists during the draft for the Vietnam War,  increasing pressure on Congress to change the voting age.

Congress controversially lowered the voting age to 18 In April 1970, as it extended legislation for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. States rights advocates believed that it was the power of the states, not the Federal Government, to set the voting age. President Nixon signed the Act which was to go into effect January 1, 1971. The Supreme Court ruled that the government had indeed overstepped its legislative bounds in lowering the voting age on December 21, 1970. With the 1972 election looming, Congress acted quickly to pass legislation proposing the 26th Amendment. The states ratified the Amendment in 100 days, faster than any other previous Amendment.

Since the passage of the 26th Amendment, there have continued to be calls to extend the right to vote to include sixteen and seventeen year olds as an effort to strengthen our democracy. Proponents state that voting is more likely to develop as a habit for sixteen year olds as they are generally in a stable environment and most recently exposed to civics education through their high school experience. Advocates claim the voices of young people should be taken into account as many policy decisions will directly impact their future.

Prior to the start of the lesson, teachers should familiarize themselves with the primary and secondary sources featured on the student resources:

This lesson contains material about war that some students might find offensive or potentially traumatizing. This material has been included in order to give students the knowledge needed to identify how our Constitution has evolved over the last 236 years. A culturally responsive classroom will provide a welcoming and safe environment where students feel comfortable discussing difficult topics. Ensure students feel comfortable sharing appropriate personal perspectives. Consider establishing classroom norms that encourage discussion.


Students will develop their responsible decision-making by analyzing situations as well as practice ethical responsibility in identifying the pros and cons of lowering the voting age in America.


  • Students demonstrate their understanding of the arguments in support of and in opposition to lowering the voting age by creating a point-counterpoint video.
  • Teachers may assess by using the assessment rubric.
  • Students will participate in self-reflection by completing the Inquiry Reflection Tool.    



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