|All Sources > The Manitou Messenger (DA-MM) > The Manitou Messenger (1916-2014) > 1969 > No. 20, Vol. 82|
Voters reject referendums calling for lower vote age
TRENTON, N.J. — (CPS) — Those students who still believe change can be accomplished working through the political system have suffered a set-back in the Nov. 5 elections, as referendums to lower the voting age in two states failed.
Voters in Ohio and New Jersey rejected their opportunities to grant voting rights to 19 and 18-year-olds respectively in referendums considered crucial tests to indicate the probability of other states doing the same. Had the referendums passed, the possibility for passage of a federal Constitutional amendment on the issue also would have been greatly improved, Youth Franchise Coalition spokesmen had predicted.
The double failure by over 300,000 votes (18 per cent) in New Jersey and about 50,000 votes (1 per cent) in Ohio seemingly would discourage the students who campaigned and canvassed for months to win the vote. But in traditional good- loser political style, organizers of the campaigns refuse to admit discouragement.
David DuPell, chairman of the Voting Age Coalition (VAC) in New Jersey, released a statement to the press which vowed to continue the fight. As a staff member at the Trenton headquarters explained, "The resolve is there. It's just a matter of time until we can convince the voters of our cause. We're not pessimistic."
But there is plenty to be; pessimistic about. The earliest possible time the issue can again be put before the voters is in two years, and then only if the state legislature is convinced voter sentiment has changed sufficiently to warrant passing another referendum bill.
The earliest possible date for 18-year-old voting to go into effect in New Jersey is 1972, and then only if 10 per cent of the voters can be convinced to change their minds in another referendum.
VAC is encouraged by Republican Governor-elect William T. Cahill's support for lowering the voting age, and the organization expects Cahill to campaign heavily for it.
"Women's voting, Social Security, and Medicare didn't pass the first time around either, but people didn't give up on them," a VAC spokesman said, indicating his continuing faith in the ballot. "We in New Jersey don't give up easily either."
In Ohio, where polls had predicted the 19-year-old vote would pass by several per cent, the story is similar to that in New Jersey.
"We're quite pleased with the results," said Vote 19 Director Clark Wideman. "It's just a matter of time until it passes.
"You see, nobody who voted for it this time is going to vote against it next time. We can only go up, and we're just about one per cent away from victory. A lot of our supporters didn't expect we'd come so close this time."
Wideman noted that a great deal of campus unrest is the only thing that could reduce this year's level of voter support in future attempts.
The issue could be placed on Ohio's May primary ballot if a petition drive, which is being considered, is successful. The alternative to a massive petition drive is returning to the state legislature and convincing it to place the issue on a future ballot, Wideman said.
"We're going to study the alternatives for awhile," he said.
Eleven other states will place the voting age issue before their voters next year, but prospects for lowering the age have not been improved by this month's results.