Drive And Decide: Councilman Wants To Lower D.C. Voting Age To 16

After receiving their driver’s license, could their next stop be the voting both?

Well in the nation’s capital at least, 16 year olds may be getting the vote.

Washington D.C. Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen introduced a bill on Tuesday, proposing that the district lowers their voting age requirement to 16 years of age for federal elections.

The “Youth Voting Amendment Act of 2015” aims to amend the District of Columbia Election Code of 1955, which currently parallels the constitution, giving citizens who are at least 18-years old the right to vote in federal elections.

Proponents of the bill say that 16-year olds already have major responsibilities and decisions that they are accountable for, so the movement to lower the voting age is warranted.

For example 16-year olds are able to operate a vehicle, have a job, pay taxes and even get tried as an adult in some criminal cases, so voting, to express their opinions, would be the next logical step.

The act also hopes to get young people excited about the political process. There was only a 38 percent voter turnout in the district’s last mayoral election, so the in the interest of increasing voter presence at the polls, this legislation could have a major impact.

Washington D.C. has a long history of progressive change, but this legislation is the first big movement towards shaking up a decade old debate.

It is worth noting that a few D.C. area municipalities have allowed voting for 16 year olds in local elections for a few years.

Should 16 and 17 year olds be allowed to vote?

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Cover Photo Credit: Collin Knopp-Schwyn/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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