Bill seeks to lower DC voting age to 16

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A bill has been proposed to lower the voting age in the District of Columbia to 16 years old.

D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) introduced The Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2018 on Tuesday. The measure would allow a D.C. resident to register to vote on local District races in addition to the presidential election starting on their 16th birthday.

Currently, D.C. residents must be at least 18 years old by the next general election in order to vote.

“At the age of 16, our society already gives young people greater legal responsibility,” Allen said in a news release. “They can drive a car. They can work. Some are raising a family or helping their family make ends meet. They pay taxes. Ironically, they pay fees to get a license plate that reads ‘Taxation Without Representation.’ I think it’s time to change that.

“Some people will say young people aren’t mature or educated enough. But I beg to differ. Just a few weeks ago, young District residents organized a citywide school walkout and spoke passionately at the Rally for DC Lives calling for an end to gun violence. In hearings on our schools, students testified with well-informed opinions. And yet, they can’t exercise their voice where it matters most – at the ballot box.”

This is not the first time legislation has been proposed to lower the voting age in D.C. Allen proposed a similar bill in 2015.

Local jurisdictions in Maryland such as Greenbelt, Takoma Park and Hyattsville allow 16-year-olds to vote in local races.