Another Voice for a Lower Voting Age

April 28, 2009

While you’ll hear a lot about big names supporting a lower voting age, from Michael Moore

to Nelson Mandela.  But the most important supporters of a lower voting age are ordinary people, and especially young people themselves!

Here is a brand new youtube video from Tracy Chacon, a youth intern with Albuquerque’s Southwest Organizing Project
Her arguments are based on fairness: teens work and pay taxes; they should have the right to vote for their own interests!
I will post more videos from young people themselves in support of a lower voting age! And I encourage everyone to record a youtube video argument your point of view!

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Youth Support Voting Age of 16 in UK: Survey

April 28, 2009

Over in the United Kingdom, where there is serious talk of lowering the voting age, the Youth Citizenship Commission asked for submissions by the general public on whether the voting age should be lowered to sixteen. The results were overwhelmingly positive:

The consultation ran from November 2008 – January 2009, with the government-backed Commission receiving 488 responses. Of this 66% backed lowering the voting age to 16 and the majority backed lowering the voting age to 16 in all UK elections.

For more details on the YCC’s finding, go to its to its Summary Report

This is a very big issue in the UK. The Electoral Reform Society, which has studied the idea extensively, also backs lowering
the voting age to 16.
According to Chief Executive Ken Ritchie, lowering the voting age would allow young people to put the civics training they already receive to a practical use.

Lowering the voting age and improving citizenship education are not mutually exclusive. 16 and 17 year olds are the first generation to have ever studied democracy and citizenship, and their demand for more information should be seen as a positive thing.

But a real gap has emerged between learning and putting that education into practice. We can’t risk separating voting off from all the work that has been done over the years to promote and develop citizenship among young people.

Lowering the voting age to 16 would reflect and support citizenship education and youth participation programmes, linking the formal democratic process to their understanding of citizenship.

The Electoral Reform Society join a host of organizations that have come out in support of lowering the voting age to 16.
These include the British Youth Council, the National Union of Students.

The people are speaking. It’s time that the politicians do their part. Now we have to develop and strengthen this movement in the USA!

So who supports lowering the voting age?

March 26, 2009

A surprising number of political leaders, academics and creative artists support enfranchising high-school aged teens.  Politically they include liberals, moderates and conservatives.  Here are a few key individuals.

National/Worldwide Political Leaders

  • Michael Moore, filmaker (Supports voting age of 16)
  • Dennis Kucinich, Congressman, Ohio (D)(Supports voting age of 16)
  • Jackie Speier, Congresswoman, California (D) (Proposed voting age of 14 for California in 1995)
  • John B. Anderson, Former Congressman (R)(Supports voting age of 16)
  • Ralph Nader, 2008 Candidate for President
  • Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa (Proposed voting age of 14 in 1994)

State and Local Political Leaders

  • Arizona-Ed Ableser and Meg Burton, State Representatives (Proposed Voting Age of 16 in 2009)
  • IllinoisLou Lang, State Representative (Proposed Voting Age of 17 in 2008)
  • Minnesota-Phylllis Kahn, State Representative (Proposed Voting Age of 16)
  • New York- Gale Brewer (New York City Council Member- Proposed Voting Age of 16 in 2005)

Keep checking back in (more names will be added).  In the meantime, take a look at the National Youth Rights Association’s list of efforts to lower the voting age worldwide.

So Why Lower the voting Age?

March 26, 2009

Your first question may be Why lower the voting age at all? Isn’t eighteen perfectly appropriate.
Here are my thoughts. Please add your own in the comments section.  There are really two central lines of argument.

  • Youth need the right to vote

On issue after issue, youth are most deeply and long-lastingly affected by the major problems that affect our society.  Whether it’s  climate change (which will affect them long after we are gone), the budget debt (which is on their backs) or social security (which they may never receive).  Additionally, most sixteen and seventeen year-olds work, and all youth under 18 pay over $9.7 billion taxes alone.

  • Lowering the Voting Age Would Encourage the Life Long Voting Habit

Allowing teens to vote at a younger age (say 16) would set youth on the path to lifelong voting.  Why?  Teens who are 16 or 17 usually live at home, most in communities they have resided for many years. They are often closely tied to those communities, and keenly feel local political developments (whether changes in education quality or city curfew laws). On the other hand, many 18 year olds are in a new community (often away at school). But even if still at home they are usually occupied by full-time work or college. Thus, high school students are more likely to exercise their right to vote than their college siblings would be.

Blogging the Voting Age

March 24, 2009

Welcome to my blog.  My name is Keith Mandell.  I am attorney and for the last five years a member of the board of the directors of the youth-led civil rights group the National Youth Rights Association . The goal of my blog is simple: to become a repository of information and prime debating ground for the growing movement to lower the voting age in America and worldwide. I honestly believe that this issue will become huge in the coming years, as ordinary Americans begin to understand that empowering young people through voting rights will have a beneficial affect on democracy in America, and as youth themselves discover this struggle.

I will also tough on youth rights more broadly, discussing efforts of the youth rights movement, and particularly the National Youth Rights Association, to grow a movement which is still in its infancy.

So sit, back, read, but especially write and comment. Your input is every bit as important as my writings.