State Constitutions and Youth Voting Rights

44 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2023

See all articles by Joshua A. Douglas

Joshua A. Douglas

University of Kentucky - College of Law

Date Written: 2022


This short essay, prepared for the Rutgers University Law Review Symposium on the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, shows how state constitutions protect young voters. Just as state courts should construe the general right-to-vote provisions within state constitutions as conferring broader rights than what is available through federal court jurisprudence under the Fourteenth Amendment, so too should state courts recognize explicitly that state constitutions go beyond the federal counterpart on youth voting rights. The Essay recounts the recent litigation over the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, demonstrating how federal courts have too narrowly construed that amendment. The Essay then highlights what state constitutions say about youth voting rights and offers a strategy for litigants to invoke these provisions when challenging laws that harm young people. Finally, the Essay presents a broader call to action for advocates to focus on state constitutional amendments that can strengthen these provisions—or face their potential weakening from those who want to restrict the right to vote.

Keywords: voting rights, election law, 26th Amendment, youth voting, state constitutions

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Joshua, State Constitutions and Youth Voting Rights ( 2022). 74 Rutgers Law Review 1729 (2022), Available at SSRN:

Joshua Douglas (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky - College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

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