The Washington, D.C., city council is considering a bill that would allow 16-year-olds the right to vote.There has been a lot of debate about voting rights recently. Many argue that access to voting is not yet equal or that antiquated laws prohibiting felons to vote should be overturned. Now a new voting rights debate is rising in Washington, D.C. The Washington, D.C., city council is considering a bill to allow 16-year-olds the right to vote in federal elections. The bill was introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6). Allen argues that teenagers are unfairly taxed without representation because although they can work a job at 16, they cannot vote. He also argues that recent activist movements have shown us how educated and informed young people can be. “By enfranchising 16- and 17-year-olds, we can bring our young people directly into the political process, lift their voices, and, hopefully, create engaged, lifelong voters,” he said. [caption id="attachment_8854" align="aligncenter" width="636"] Courtesy of ABC News[/caption]
Interestingly, the Constitution does not stop states from lowering the voting age below 18; it only states that the voting age cannot be higher than 18. Both Takoma Park and Hyattsville, Maryland, have lowered their voting age for municipal elections. This bill leads to an interesting debate. While some agree with Allen, others may worry that teenagers are too immature to make important voting decisions or may just vote for who their parents voted for. Another concern is whether 16-year-olds will even turn out to vote if the bill is passed. Millennials have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. Half of all eligible millennial voters went out to the polls in the 2016 election, compared to the general voter turnout rate of 58 percent, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law. It has to be voted on by the city council and signed by the mayor. In Washington, D.C., Congress also has the right to review and block any legislation passed by the city council. What do you think? Should 16 year-olds have the right to vote? Let us know in the comments!