Michigan’s voting age could be lowered to 16 if lawmakers pass a bill that was introduced this week. This bill, sponsored by Senator David Knezek and Representative Yousef Rabhi, follows an outpouring of teen advocacy after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida in February. The legislators hope to give teenagers a voice in the political process– after all, they say, the political process impacts 16 year olds. “We allow 16-year-olds to go off and get jobs and pay taxes, but we fail to allow them to exercise their voice come election time,” Knezek told the Detroit Free Press. “Young people are setting aside their differences and identifying issues they think need to change. And they can do everything to get that change except vote.”
Opponents of the age change say 16-year-olds are not mature enough to make informed decisions. But Knezek and Rabhi point to experts who say key cognitive decision-making processes are “solidified” in people’s minds by that age.
Additionally, studies show better voting habits are created when people can vote at a younger age. Brandon Klugman coordinates Vote16USA, a national campaign organized by Generation Citizen to advocate for a younger voting age across the country. He says 18-to-24 year olds generally have very low voter turnout numbers. However, those stats tend to be higher for 16 and 17 year olds in places where they already have the right to vote.