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Let's Talk League - Coffee
General Meeting - September 21st
To Train Ourselves
September Calendar
From Our President (Dee Lum)
Calendar 1971-72
18-Year-Old Vote: What it Means Here and across the Nation
Just One Day of Your Life Please (Marian Wilkins)
Attention: Members Interested in Observing the Planning Session
Attention: Members Interested in Planning
Membership Memo (Fran Burgess)
Charter Action (Fran Jackson)
Board Policies
Hawaii State Board Reports
Grant Supports Two New Programs
From the Annual Report by Lucy Wilson Benson... (Lucy Wilson Benson)

The 18-Year-Old Vote: What it Means Here and across the Nation

The following article appeared in the July 4th edition of The New York Sunday Times:

"WASHINGTON—The American politician is among the most adaptable creatures on earth. His instincts tell him that he can survive domestic insurrection, foreign intrigue, changes in the voting laws--almost everything--by modest changes in emphasis. He doesn't believe the electorate ever changes.

"Thus the initial reaction after the Supreme Court, late in 1970, validated that portion of the Voting Rights Act that gave the vote to those between 18 and 21 years of age in Federal elections: they would not vote very heavily, said the ward heeler (in concert with the political scientist), and if they did, they would vote with their parents, vitiating most of their influence.

"But in the last three months, more and more politicians have decided that this change is different, and that it could make old styles obsolete.

"Registrations in such places as Orange County, Calif.--a seedbed of Republican conservatism--are running heavily Democratic. Look magazine headlines an article, based on the careful research of Samuel Lubell, 'The 18-year old Vote Could Beat Nixon in 1972.'

"Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, a centrist, takes pains to emphasize his stands on issues that might move the young to support his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination, even when it hurts him with his right-center constituency.

"Texas Democrats accustomed to having their own way in Presidential politics explain to visitors that they don't know what will happen next year because of 'the kid factor.'

"Even if no partisan advantage accrues to either major party, change seems inevitable.

"In the long run--unless the basic sociological trends of the last decade are reversed--the extension of the franchise appears certain to have one overriding effect. The young find the politician's instinct for compromise unappealing, so they are attracted to the George Wallaces and Eugene McCarthys of the world. Eventually, most thoughtful politicians agree, they are bound to produce a more ideological politics.

"There are those who continue to believe that the impact of the youth vote will be marginal. But they are a minority.

"With the action of the Ohio Legislature last week, the franchise was extended to 18-to-21--year-olds in state and local elections as well as Federal. Ohio was the 38th state to ratify the 26th Amendment, providing the requisite approval of three-quarters of the states.

"It was the fastest ratification in history--three months and seven days.

"To a degree, the Vietnam war was a factor. The argument that people old enough to die in combat are old enough to vote has always been persuasive. That was the primary consideration when Georgia, in the midst of World War II (1943), became the first state to give 18-year-olds the vote in state elections.

"A more important reason this time, however, was the confusion that would have flowed from the necessity for most states to maintain separate election roles for state and Federal balloting. In New York City alone, it was estimated, the additional cost might have totaled $5-million a year.

"Ratification cleared' up one question and left another.

"It is now beyond dispute that the young will be eligible to vote in Presidential primary elections- a point which officials in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, for example, had previously differed. In such states as California and Wisconsin, with their large numbers of generally liberally oriented campuses, that could have a sizable impact.

"Still to be resolved, however, is a larger question: Should students be allowed to register and vote where they attend school, or only where their parents live? Many state laws and the administrative decisions of state election officials tend to the latter.

"Those who would like to see students vote in large numbers, such as Common Cause, the citizens' lobby, which was extremely effective in the ratification drive, intend to press court tests of these laws and regulations. Lawsuits are already under way in 26 states.

"If the suits are effective, students--freed of the onerous legalities of absentee balloting--would undoubtedly register and vote more heavily. They might also threaten members of Congress, state legislators and mayors with defeat in areas such as Madison, Wis., Columbus, Ohio, and Cambridge, Mass., where they are concentrated.     --R. W. APPLE Jr."
 

Here on Oahu the League, acting in cooperation with the Department of Education, the Lt. Governor's office and the City and County Clerk's office will mount a massive voter registration drive in the public high schools this fall. All students who will be 18 before the 1972 election and who wish to be made voters will be able to register. A similar program operated by the LWV of Hawaii County last spring on the Big Island resulted in registration of 80-90% of eligible students.

Of course, we will need many Leaguers to serve as deputized registrars (training will be provided by the City Clerk's office) to go into the schools to work with specially trained student assistants to register the young people. The extension of the franchise to 18-year-olds has been a LWV position for many years. Here we have a chance to really implement what we have so long supported! For further details about serving as a registrar (time requirements, duties, etc.) please call: Claudia Patil, 254-3741.

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