Why States Should Lower The Voting Age September 21, 2023September 20, 2023 Four reasons: Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds may not be as wise as 80-year-olds . . . but they have a whole lot more at stake. Elections today will impact their lives for the next 70+ years. Giving them the right – and responsibility – to vote is the best civics lesson I can think of. A reason to get involved, debates the issues, then have their say. They can handle it, just as they can handle driving. Young voters may come to regret some of their early votes as they get older, just as young drivers have more than their share of accidents. But allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote will injure NO ONE — and only add a shot of youthful vitality to our shared democracy. Lowering the voting age will help Democrats win. That’s because our views on climate, equality, reproductive freedom, and sensible gun safety, to name just four – and on democracy itself, to name a fifth – have strong appeal to the young. The 26th Amendment required all states to lower the voting age to 18 but in no way prevented them from going further. Republicans will presumably seek to block any such effort wherever they can. But maybe not. Doing so would send a clear message to young people — of every age — that it is Democrats who share their values; Republicans who hope they won’t vote. But in any case, there are 17 “trifecta” Democratic states — including the swing state of Michigan — where it should be possible. There are more than 8 million 16- and 17-year-olds in America, roughly 42% of them in those trifecta states. If a third decided to register and vote for a brighter future, those million extra votes could make all the difference. There is a wrinkle in this called Oregon v. Mitchell. Some believe the Court’s 1970 5-4 ruling gave Congress sole authority over the voting age in Federal elections. So, yes, once a state did lower its voting age, it’s possible our friends across the aisle would challenge it in Court. But — again — maybe not. Do they really want to tell 16- and 17-year-olds that the elderly can have a say in their future, but that they themselves can’t? That they can work in life-and-death situations as EMTs and lifeguards — and shoulder the responsibility of driving cars – or even be poll workers, for heaven’s sake — but not vote? But let’s assume they do — That they challenge our new law and that the case ultimately winds up, as it surely would, before the Supreme Court. This is the Court that believes deeply in states’ rights. That’s how they justified overturning the 5-4 Roe v. Wade decision, which had been settled law since 1973 and which had been upheld 6-3 in 1992. State’s rights. So it’s quite possible that they would look at Oregon v. Mitchell – an even older 5-4 ruling – and decide that case was wrongly decided, too. That states should be allowed to set voting ages not JUST for state and local elections (as everyone agrees they already can and do) but for federal elections as well. Or, consistency be damned, the Court might rule that only Congress can lower a state’s voting age, even though that’s nowhere stated or even really hinted at in the 26th Amendment. We’re STILL not out of the game because at that point Congress could decide it’s time to lower the age as it did in 1970. I think every governor in the country — and certainly every Democratic governor — should consider working with her or his legislature to get this done. If the Republicans manage to block it, we won’t get any 16- and 17-year-old votes. But it could help us win the support of their older brothers and sisters. And those 16- and 17-year-olds won’t stay 16 or 17 for long. Four days ago, Vice President Kamala Harris kicked off a month-long tour of college campuses to mobilize younger voters to “fight for our freedoms” . . . Harris told a cheering, overflow audience at the Reading Area Community College that voting “determines whether the person who is holding elected office is going to fight for your freedoms and rights or not. Whether that be the freedom that you should have to just be free from attack, free from hate, free from gun violence, free from bias, free to love who you love and be open about it, free to have access to the ballot box without people obstructing your ability to exercise your civic right to vote, in terms of who will be the people holding elected office and leading your country.” — Heather Cox Richardson The youth vote has been surpassing expectations. I think that will continue. They see what’s at stake. We’re gonna win. To help, click here.