Should We Lower the Voting Age?


If expanding voting rights is an interest of yours, check out this report from Oregon.

The Oregon legislature is currently discussing a bill that would change the state’s Constitution to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. Referencing the activism by teens sparked by the shooting in Parkland and the lawsuit over climate change, legislators made the case that teenagers want to have a more active role in shaping policy that affects them directly.

If the bill passes in the legislature, it would need to go on the ballot in 2020 to be passed by the voters before the law would take effect.

The same thing is happening in the California legislature, although a similar effort last year did not pass. The difference this year is that the Democratic majority in the legislature is even bigger following the midterm elections.

The last time the country lowered the voting age, from 21 to 18, was in 1971. The debate had been going on for a while but really intensified during the Vietnam War. Essentially, men were furious that they could be drafted into war at 18 but didn’t have a say in the country’s direction until the age of 21. A slogan at that time was, “old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” The voting age was changed via the 26th Amendment. (You can read a fascinating history of the twists and turns this effort took HERE.)

If the efforts in Oregon and California are successful, it is important to note that it would affect who can vote in local and state elections, but it likely won’t apply to federal elections.

Take Action: If you’re in Oregon or California, reach out to your state legislators to talk to them about the issue and let them know where you stand.

So what do you think? Would you be in favor of lowering the voting age nationwide from 18 to 16? Let me know in the comments!

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