Report: Washington, D.C. proposal would lower the voting age to 16

Posted at 5:12 PM, Apr 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-17 18:12:15-04

WASHINGTON - Our nation's capital is highly considering giving voting rights to the same youth that made history in the gun reform protests.

If a proposal to lower the age is approved, 16 and 17-year-olds in Washington, D.C. may be allowed to cast their ballots in the next presidential election.

Cities may only have power to change voting ages in municipal elections, but D.C. may very well be the first place to lower the age for federal elections.

People laughed in 2015 when D.C. Council member Charles Allen proposed the idea of lowing the voting age to 16. Last week Allen reintroduced the measure, according to a report by The Washington Post. 

Now, three years later, people are jumping on board. Many D.C. Council members have signed onto the proposal.

High schoolers showed the world they not only have political interests but have powerful voices when they fought courageously in the March for Our Lives rally for gun control laws in light of the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

According to The Washington Post, Allen said, "It’s pretty hard for anyone to watch the events of the last couple of months and not understand the pure power and maturity of incredibly young voices."

"I don’t see how anyone could hear any of those voices and think that person couldn't make an informed decision like anyone else,” said Allen.

The world heard their voices and now, they may have a chance to be even more active in politics by being granted voting rights.

Student activism has played a big role in our nation's voting history. The voting age of 18, as established by the 26th Amendment, was inspired by the youth questioning laws. 18-year-olds were commanded to fight in the war if drafted but didn't have the right to vote. 

The argument is similar today. People who are old enough to drive cars, to organize and execute rallies, and who are highly capable of intellectual maturity might be competent enough to elect our country's officials and participate in political affairs.

"At the age of 16, our society already gives young people greater legal responsibility. They can drive a car. They can work. Some are raising a family or helping their family make ends meet. They pay taxes. And yet, they can't exercise their voice where it matters most — at the ballot box," said Allen.

Takoma Park, Maryland, was the first city in the U.S. to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in a municipal election in 2013. Since then other cities have followed. D.C. would be the first major city to have such a law.

NBC says since Washington, D.C. is a city and pseudo-state, 16 and 17-year-olds could potentially elect officials from neighborhood councils all the way to the White House.

Allen's proposal has many critics. People question the political knowledge and worry that lowering the age will lead to an extension in the near future.