Should 16-year-olds be able to vote?
There’s a push to make it happen in Washington, D.C., and The NOW spoke with young activists to get their thoughts on why it’s time for a change.
The students are part of a push to lower the voting age to 16. Due to their work, D.C. will vote this fall on whether to allow 16-year-olds to vote in presidential elections, as well as local elections.
Critics say they’re too young.
“They don’t think we’re mature enough to make an informed decision,” says Alik Schier, with Vote16 USA. “Yet, we’re mature enough to drive a car; we’re mature enough to have a job and pay taxes.”
Those opposed to lowering the voting age point to a list of other things teens are not able to do.
“Are they able to serve on juries?” asks David Davenport, with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “Are they able to get credit cards? Are they able to serve in the military? Are they able to drive cars without any conditions? These are all things 16-year-olds are on the learning curve for.”
Despite any objections, the teens are pushing forward, and their mission is gaining some traction.
If passed, D.C. would become the first place to allow 16-year-olds to vote in a presidential election. There are currently four cities that allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, and at least five other cities, including D.C., that are considering it.
“For us, there’s really a focus on local elections, and there’s just a focus on getting more people to vote,” says Scott Warre, with Generation Citizen. “We don’t care if they’re voting Democrat; we don’t care if they’re voting Republican. We just want people to vote.”
The movement gained momentum after recent school shootings, when students organized marches and walkout demonstrations, demanding their voices be heard. Now, these groups want to take it one step further.
“Going out and protesting or walking out of school is important, but what’s even more important is getting out and voting,” says Schier.