While the 26th Amendment to the Constitution ensures that citizens age 18 and older can vote in local and federal elections, it doesn’t actually set a boundary for selecting a lower age at the state or, in this instance, the nation’s capital level. With that understanding, the City Council in Washington DC is considering allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.
A bill that secured 3-0 approval in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Thursday is making its way to the Washington DC city council. It would allow citizens as young as 16 to vote in local and federal elections, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
The Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2018 will be placed on the November 13th City Council Legislative Meeting agenda, ensuring a vote on the matter will occur.
Charles Allen, a member of the council, states that the legislation would “enfranchise the District’s young people and bring their voices into the political process.”
“At the age of 16, your legal relationship with the government changes,” said Allen.
“Young people work and pay income taxes. Some are raising a family or helping their family make ends meet,” Allen continued. “They can drive a car. Ironically, they pay fees to get a license plate that reads ‘End Taxation Without Representation.’ I think it’s time to change that.”
To officially become law, the bill must pass two full council votes, a DC’s Home Rule requirement. The mayor would also have to sign the legislation, and the bill would be subject to a 30-day congressional review period.
If approved, approximately 10,400 teenagers would become eligible to vote in the presidential election in 2020. An estimated 80 percent of those citizens identify as youth of color.
Dave Chandrasekaran, the Vote16DC campaign manager, said, “DC is poised to become the first major American city to grant voting-rights to 16- and 17-year-olds.”
“At a time when political discourse in this country is so divisive, it’s really inspiriting to witness how passionate DC youth are about having a voice and positively influencing our community,” he added.