The typical sixteen-year-old in America works, drives and may even be responsible for caring for younger siblings or family members, so why can’t they vote? More than one politician in D.C. thinks they should be able to.
D.C. council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) introduced legislation on April 10th that would lower the voting age to 16 in the 2020 federal and local elections. Allen said he was inspired by the high schoolers leading the March For Our Lives initiative, and seven of 13 D.C. council members support the legislation.
18-year-old high school senior Alisha Chopra told USA Today that this could be the beginning of a major change. “I think people are getting excited about this, especially with what’s going on in the nation right now in terms of youth leading social change,” Chopra said. “So I think that people are going to be very excited about it and want to get on board.”
The Parkland survivors have already been credited with changing certain gun laws in Florida. Their advocacy efforts led to the Florida legislature raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, restricting bump gun stocks that allow for rapid fire succession, and extending the waiting period for all gun purchases.
The last time the voting age was lowered in the United States was in 1971 during the Vietnam War, when students argued that if an 18-year-old could be drafted they should be allowed to vote.
In 2013, 16 and 17-year-olds in Takoma Park, Maryland were allowed to vote in the municipal election. However the District of Columbia is considered a state in many ways, and as a result can lower the voting age to allow teens to vote for the president of the United States.
There will be a public hearing in June and then an official vote on the legislation before the end of the year. We can’t wait to see how this turns out!