Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Occupy the Ballot Box: A Brief History of Youth-Led Campaigns to Enfranchise Young People

March 19, 2012

Some of you may think that the movement to empower people under 18 to vote in America is something new, something unheard of, something shocking. Actually, it has a rich history going back at least into the 1990s.

1998

In 1998, the first protests were organized to lower the voting age, as part of the “Operation Register” campaign of YouthSpeak, an internet based youth rights organization founded by a 15 year old high school student. On May 22, 1998, saw protests across America in support of youth suffrage. In Santa Monica, California, the protest was particularly successful:

On Friday, May 22nd, over 25 young people, ages 13 to 17, from local schools gathered in front of the Midnight Special Bookstore on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade to participate in Operation Register, a national campaign to lower the legal voting age. The protest was organized locally by AMP, the Association of Minor Persons, an organization made up of minors and adult supporters committed to promoting the rights, interests and voices of young people in the United States. Protesters carried signs and handed out information, drawing a small crowd of interested adults and young people. At least thirty people stopped by to ask questions.

To learn more about the 1998 “Operation Register” campaign, go to YouthSpeak’s Press Release.

2000

In November 2000, another protest effort occurred, culminating in a protest at the Capital on Election Day. It was covered by Slate Magazine.

Lower the Vote protests were planned for Election Day in 14 states, including California, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. [ . . . ] According to its Web page, Lower the Vote is a partnership of various youth rights organizations and independent organizers all committed to lowering the voting age in the United States of America. We believe that the current voting age denies millions of deserving U.S. citizens the fundemental [sic] right to vote and should be lowered.

(See Timothy Noah, “Should the Voting Age be Lowered”, November 8, 2000, Slate Magazine)

2004

In March 2004, Robert Reynolds and the his Berkley High School (California) Progressive Club (later NYRA-Berkley) had a plan for California’s primary election day:

Berkeley High School students who want the right to vote plan to picket a polling place during Tuesday’s California primary.

The school’s Progressive Club has been working to lower the voting age to 16 since late last year.

On Tuesday some members plan to go inside a polling place and request ballots, much like Susan B. Anthony and her fellow suffragists did in Rochester, N.Y., in 1872. Some will picket outside the polling place at Hearst Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

(“Berkeley High club campaigns to lower voting age to 16;Students plan to picket polling place during Tuesday’s primary before going to classes” The Daily Review (Hayward, CA) March 1, 2004)

On election day, Reynolds and his group did what voting rights protesters have done throughout history:

[. . .] Robert Reynolds headed for the polls at the local senior center, where he politely requested a ballot from a graying, middle-aged woman. She glanced at his youthful face, and then brusquely turned him away. Undaunted, Reynolds, a 17-year-old high school junior, then exercised a democratic right — staging a demonstration with a handful of schoolmates. They chanted slogans and toted signs; one read, “No Taxation Without Representation.”

(Bobby Caina Calvin, “Californians Consider Granting 14 Year Olds the Right to Vote, Youth Suffrage Effort Sweeps US”, Boston Globe, April 25, 2004).

2008

In the fall of 2008, NYRA’s Southeast Florida Chapter took their efforts to lower the voting age to the next level. They produced a television commercial the first EVER to air in the United States in support of a voting age under 18. Here is another look at that awesome ad, which aired on Washington DC television!

The group also received positive news coverage for their efforts, as the following news piece indicates.

Finally, NYRA-Nanuet a prominent chapter in Upstate New York also received news coverage for its efforts to lower the voting age and empower teens to get involved.

This only the briefest summary of youth-led grassroots voting age efforts over the last 14 years. There are many, many more than this blog can summarize. But remember, the best is yet to come as 2012 will mark the most significant effort yet to to lower the voting age! Join our movement and help make history!

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Election 2012: The “I Want My Vote!” Campaign Begins!

March 10, 2012

All over the world, the movement to lower the voting age is growing: from Scotland, to Canada to Estonia people are waking up to the need for youth to have their voice heard in electing the leaders who will so greatly impact their future. Now it’s America’s turn!

In 2012, during this critical election year, young people of all ages are demanding more than mere promises or platitudes from politicians. They are raising their voices as one, to declare- “I Want My Vote!”

The “I Want My Vote” campaign is about young people, of all ages, of all politics and points of view, working together to bring about change.

Look for protests across America, in big cities and timely towns.
Young people will be speaking out, demanding the rights so many adults take for granted!
Check back here regularly for updates on key developments! Or better yet, Subscribe to this Blog!

And if you want to learn more about WHY the voting age must be lowered, check out the National Youth Rights Association’s excellent Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age and Voting Age Talking Points.

Huffington Post Columnist: Lower the Voting Age

June 10, 2009

The Huffington Post’s Nancy Lublin founder of sets forth yet another strong argument to lower the voting age to 17. Please check out the full article, but here are a few key points:

  • 17 year olds work (and pay taxes)
  • 17 year olds drive and operate heavy machinery
  • 17 year olds can be tried as adults in 36 states
  • 17 year olds can enlist in the miltary

As Ms. Lublin points out:

If we are comfortable entrusting these young individuals with defending our country and our honor, then they should be given the right to vote for their boss, the Commander in Chief. If we are comfortable arming them with a lethal weapon as they patrol in the name of freedom, then perhaps they’re responsible enough to be armed with the right to vote.

As the chorus grows for a lower voting age, I will try to increase my posts (hopefully daily).  There is a lot going on with this issue!  Let’s all get involved and play a part in history!

Teens Produce Commercials For Lower Voting Age

April 29, 2009

History was recently made when the National Youth Rights Association’s South East Florida Chapter created the first commericals ever urging a lower voting age!
The chapter, composed of high school students from the West Palm Beach area, wrote and produced the ads, which aired on Washington D.C. cable tv last fall. These commercials are the first salvo on the coming push by young people themselves to lower the voting age to empower themselves to improve America. Check out the commercials and a related tv-news story below. And provide some comments!

    Commercial



    News Story


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!

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.