Oregon can lower the age of voting to 16

Lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the Oregon constitution to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years old. If the bill passes, voters will vote on the proposal in the 2020 elections.

State Senator Shemia Fagan (D-Portland), one of the sponsors of the bill, announced the bill on Monday.

"It is time to lower the age of voting in Oregon and give young people a chance to vote on decisions that affect their home, their future, their air and water, their schools and their homes. , as we have seen, their very lives, "Fagan said at a press conference.

Bill's godparents say that they want the amendment to be extended to federal elections.

Fagan pointed to the political activism of students in Parkland, Florida, who challenged lawmakers to tighten gun control laws after an armed man killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in New York. last February.

Samantha Gladu, executive director of the Bus Project youth organization, said that 16- and 17-year-olds are engaged and smart enough to vote informally.

"They know we need to act urgently in areas such as education funding, health care, climate justice and gun violence, in particular," Gladu said. "16 and 17 year olds also hear a lot about the need for criminal justice reform and the need to end mass incarceration."

Natalie Khalil, a senior from Lake Oswego High School in Oregon who has organized for gun law reform, said high school students should be able to apply the knowledge gained in their classes. civic education.

Allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote will "create voters for life," said Khalil.

The Republican Senate Leader of Oregon, Herman Baertschiger Jr., opposes this idea.

"16-year-olds are too young to engage in the military, too young to own guns, too young to own property, too young to sign legal contracts and too young to But are they old enough to vote? People are not legally considered as adults in this country before the age of 18, and I think that they should not be able to vote before that date either, "he said Tuesday in a statement. "This is nothing more than an attempt to broaden the list of voters to influence the elections."

Other changes to the minimum age for voting

Other places had the idea of ​​allowing minors to vote. A 2016 proposal in San Francisco did not succeed but managed to win 48% of the vote. Some cities in Maryland have already lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections.

In Austria, Brazil and Argentina, the minimum age for voting is 16 years.

In the United States, the voting age changed for the last time in 1971, when the 26th amendment to the Constitution lowered the minimum age required from 21 to 18 years. Following the decision of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to lower the minimum age for military recruitment to 18 years during World War II. , "old enough to fight, old enough to vote" has become a popular slogan for the cause of young people's right to vote.

The 26th amendment guarantees citizens 18 years of age and over the right to vote, but does not prohibit states from setting a lower age.

Fourteen states, including Oregon, currently allow people to register to vote at the age of 16.

The participation of young voters increases

The participation of young voters (aged 18 to 29) is still lower than that of other age groups, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

However, the youth participation rate at the mid-term in 2018 was unusually high (31%), and they were overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic candidates, the Center's Information and Research Center said. civic learning and engagement.

The city of Takoma Park, in the District of Columbia, Maryland, was the first American city to raise the minimum age to 16 years. In the first election following the passage of the law, 16- and 17-year-old registered youth had a participation rate of 44%, the overall participation rate of 11% in 2013, said Brian Conner, Chair. from the National Youth Rights Association.

"When we give them the right to vote, their turnout is high," said Conner.

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