Vote16USA: A Campaign To Lower the Voting Age
LOWERING THE VOTING AGE OVERVIEW
The time for a national campaign to lower the voting age to 16 is now. Vote16USA, a project of Generation Citizen, is releasing a hallmark paper, Young Voices at the Ballot Box: Advancing Efforts to Lower the Voting Age making the case for why the voting age should be lowered, and demonstrating which cities and states should be targeted for such a policy change.
Generation Citizen (GC)’s mission is to ensure that every young person in this country receives an effective action civics education. As part of this mission, are launching Vote16USA, an initiative to promote lowering the voting age to 16. We feel that such a policy move could excite young people about politics, spur a conversation on the importance of youth political participation, and motivate schools to teach action civics.
GC is not the first group to push the idea. Our aim is to consolidate all of the reports and studies that have been done on the issue, and provide research and campaign advice to campaigns across the country taking action on this issue. Additionally, we have built a Youth Advisory Board, comprised of young people from active and successful lower the voting age campaigns, to advise us on this movement.
Our paper, conducted with support from the Foundation for Civic Leadership, was written after extensive interviews with experts and stakeholders. Importantly, it includes comprehensive legal research to show which cities and states are primed to lower the voting age to 16.
The paper, Young Voices at the Ballot Box: Advancing Efforts to Lower the Voting Age, is available here.
WHY LOWER THE VOTING AGE?
The paper focuses on the following reasons that the voting age should be lowered to 16:
- Lowering the voting age can drive demand for better civic education in schools. The combination of a lower voting age and better civics education can create a virtuous cycle that dramatically boosts civic engagement.
- Voter turnout is a key measure of the health of a democracy, and current turnout in the United States is dismal. Lowering the voting age can increase voter turnout and strengthen our democracy in the long run. Research shows that voting is habitual, and age 16 is a better time than 18 to first establish the habit of voting.
- Sixteen- and 17-year-olds work and pay taxes on their income, can drive in most states, and can in some cases be tried as adults in court. In addition, local political decisions have great influence on the lives of 16- and 17-year-olds. They deserve the right to vote on issues that affect them at this level.
- Research shows that 16- and 17-year-olds are indeed ready to vote. Not only do they have requisite civic knowledge and skills, but they have the mental reasoning ability necessary to make informed choices.
Two cities in Maryland—Takoma Park and Hyattsville—successfully lowered their voting ages to 16 in the past two years. Significant efforts are currently underway in San Francisco and Washington D.C., and other cities around the country are also exploring the possibility.
Overall, the paper hopes to present a comprehensive overview of efforts to lower the voting age, in order to help support local campaigns and elevate this issue on the national level. As the 2016 election cycle comes into full swing, we desperately need bold ideas to rejuvenate our democracy and spark participation in politics. One of these potential solutions is lowering the voting age in American elections to 16 years old.
LINKS AND MEDIA
Click here to read a New York Times article on Vote16USA and Generation Citizen’s efforts to lower voting age to 16.
VOTE16USA YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD ROSTER
Brandon Klugman, Vote16USA Campaign Coordinator
Mattan Berner-Kadish – Takoma Park, MD
Anna Bernick – San Francisco, CA
Juwan Blocker – Hyattsville, MD
Joshua Cardenas – San Francisco, CA
Noah David – San Francisco, CA
Anna He – San Francisco, CA
Joseph Jackson – Richmond, CA
Carline Kirksey-Almond – Lowell, MA
Susan Le – Lowell, MA
Hannah Sun – Denver, CO
Jill Wu – San Francisco, CA
Oliver York – San Francisco, CA
INTERESTED IN PARTNERSHIP?
We know that we cannot succeed in this effort independently. To start a conversation on collaboration, please email Scott Warren (firstname.lastname@example.org). We look forward to hearing from you!