Washington D.C. local CBS-affiliate WUSA 9 reported last week that council member Charles Allen(D) has proposed legislation that would allow 16 year olds to vote in the 2020 presidential elections. Allen said that the legislation was inspired by the high schoolers last month at the March for our lives campaigning for gun control. “Hundreds of thousands of young people filled the streets.”
Reflecting on the recent events with the Parkland High school kids* Allen told NBC News
“Two years ago, the argument that I would hear people make was, really? Have you met a 16 year old?” Allen told NBC News. “What we’ve seen over the last several months has just completely eviscerated that argument.”
According to a recent Washington Post article a survey of the event put the average age of the participants at 49 years old.
Seven of 13 D.C. council members support the legislation. The measure would lower the local voting age from 18 for both federal and local elections, a first in the nation.
According to USA Today
In 2013, Takoma Park, Md., allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections, and other cities, including Berkely, Calif., also extended voting rights. But while cities can only extend voting rights in municipal elections, the District of Columbia is treated a state in some cases, and can, therefore, change the voting age to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote for President of the United States in addition to local elections.
The 26th Amendment, which was ratified in 1971, lowered the national voting age to 18.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
This 2015 article by Headcount.org seems to mirror much of the skepticism over the general idea of lowering the voting age to 16.
Although there are some compelling reasons to consider lowering the voting age from 18, there are negative consequences for such an action, as well. First, one must ask if 16 or 17 year olds are at a point where they are mature enough to vote. Minors, according to current laws, are not yet mature enough to take part in consuming alcohol, tobacco products and make other important consent based decisions, they lack the “temperament”. In a sense, is voting any different?
Just last month the country of Malta lowered it’s voting age to 16 in a unanimous vote of parliament Malta Today
The Prime Minister of Malta tweeted the news.
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) March 5, 2018