By a vote of 400 to 19, the House yesterday approved a proposed constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 in all elections. If approved by the legislatures of three-quarters (38) of the states, the proposal will become the 26th Amendment to the Constitution.
Within an hour after the House vote, the Minnesota and Delaware legislatures each ratified the amendment. Also approving the proposal yesterday were Tennessee, Connecticut, and Washington.
Whether or not the amendment is ratified, the 11 million young people who would be enfranchised by it will be permitted to vote in the 1972 Presidential election under a bill approved by Congress last year. But the Supreme Court ruled last December that Congress had exceeded its authority in granting the voting right to 18-year-olds in state and local elections.
Supporters of the amendment yesterday predicted ratification of the measure, although in the last ten years 20 states have defeated similar moves to lower the voting age.
One of the few dissenters in the House, Rep. Charles E. Wiggins (R-Cal.) said that Congress was demonstrating the "permissiveness" of modern American society by approving it. Others feared that elections in college towns would become dominated by student populations within them.
Nine states currently have voting ages under 21, but only three have set the minimum age at 18: Georgia, Alaska, and Kentucky. Three states have set the age at 20, while three have 19 as the age of enfranchisement.