Monday, April 16, 2018

D.C. and Voting Age Change

The Nation's Capital may soon become the First Major Jurisdiction in America to Lower the Voting age from 18 to 16 after a Majority of the City Council expressed its support for a Proposal to do so.

This Bill, Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2018, proposed by Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), would Lower the Voting Age in both Local and Presidential Elections and allow 16 and 17 year-olds to Vote in Federal Elections. In 2013, Takoma Park, Maryland became the First American City to Lower the Voting Age in Local Elections, and a few others have followed suit, but No Major City has yet joined them.

​Lowering the Voting Age is an overlooked Tool in the Fight for Voting Rights, but it's an important one that could have a major impact if more Cities and States begin to adopt it.

Setting the Voting Age at 16 could lead to Higher Turnout Among those Voters as they grow Older, since Voting is a Habit-Forming Behavior. At age 16, most Teenagers still Live with their Parents, and a vigorous High School Civics Education could lead to Higher Participation if these Teenagers are able to Register through their School and then cast a Ballot.

By itself, D.C.’s move won't have much Political impact, since the City is overwhelmingly Democratic and is Disenfranchised in Congressional Elections. But if this Reform spreads across the Country, it could enable a Wave of Young Citizens to make their Voices Count in the Future.

And the timing couldn’t be more apposite. Following the horrific School Shooting in Parkland, Florida, we’ve seen a Surge in Activism from Teenagers Advocating for New Gun-Safety Laws, even though they aren't yet eligible to Vote. Just as Lowering the Voting Age from 21 to 18 helped end the Draft during the Vietnam War, setting it at 16 could help America finally enact Sensible Gun Laws that make our Schools Safer.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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