On the eve of Election Day 2017, a state Assembly member from Brooklyn held a press conference focused on voter engagement and turnout, but it wasn’t in support of his own candidacy — he’s not up for reelection until next year — or anyone else’s. Instead, Assemblymember Robert Carroll was talking about his push to allow 17-year-olds to vote. In the state capital of Albany, Carroll recently introduced a bill, the Young Voter Act, that would allow 17-year-olds to cast ballots in state and local elections. The voting age is currently 18 for national elections and within New York. The legislation would also require that all students in public high schools receive at least eight hours of formal civics education, and that schools provide voter registration forms to students when they turn 17.
MPs are to debate a bill aiming to reduce the voting age to 16, with the cross-party supporters of the measure arguing it is a long-overdue idea which would boost involvement in politics. The proposal is a private member’s bill, introduced by Labour MP Jim McMahon, and thus has relatively little chance of finding enough parliamentary time to become law, not least as the government does not back the idea. But it has not just official support from Labour, but also backing from the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens, with the hope that McMahon’s bill could further push the idea on to the political landscape. The bill, officially titled the representation of the people (young people’s enfranchisement and education) bill, will receive its second reading on Friday, the initial opportunity for MPs to debate an idea.
California: Lawmakers block effort to allow 17-year-olds to vote in California elections | Los Angeles Times
California lawmakers blocked an effort to allow 17-year-olds to vote in local and state elections. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10, proposed by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), failed to gather a required two-thirds vote in the Assembly. The proposal aimed to promote early civic engagement. It would have made California the first state to allow 17-year-olds to vote in elections. “This is a bold idea. But bold ideas are required to make significant change,” Low said on the Assembly floor before the vote.
Malta: Legislative overhaul ‘will be required if 16 or 17-year-olds are elected mayors’ | The Malta Independent
In the hypothetical situation that a 16 or 17-year-old is elected as a local council mayor, changes will be required to existing legislation, according to Vote 16 committee chairperson Andrew Debattista. Yesterday morning, Parliamentary Secretary for Reform Julia Farrugia Portelli launched a consultation document on voting rights for 16-year-olds, called ‘Vote 16; Empowering Youth’. In the previous legislature, 16-year-olds voted in local council elections, and now there are plans to extend these rights to general elections and those for the European Parliament. The document also questions whether such youngsters could be allowed to contest local elections, with the possibility of becoming mayors if they have the highest number of votes.
Whether by design or accident, Vermont’s founders imposed no age requirement on those who could run for governor of this state. Town officials in Vermont must be legal voters, meaning they have taken the voter’s oath and are at least 18 years old. No such requirement exists for Vermont’s highest office. The constitutional quirk paved the way for Ethan Sonneborn, 13, of Bristol, to announce this summer that he’s running for governor. Eligible candidates must have simply lived in Vermont for four years before the election — “which I’ve tripled, and then some,” said Sonneborn, a 13-year resident of Vermont. The youngest governor to lead Vermont was F. Ray Keyser, Jr., who was 34 years old when he took office in 1961, according to the state Archives and Records Administration. Sonneborn, who is starting eighth grade this fall at Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School, hopes to beat that record by a good 20 years.
He won’t even be able to vote, but a 16-year-old Wichita high school student says he’s serious about his bid to run for governor of Kansas. Jack Bergerson has filed to run as a Democrat in the 2018 race for governor of Kansas, saying he wanted to give people another option, The Kansas City Star reported . And it doesn’t faze him that he won’t even be old enough to vote in the election. “Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” said Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office. “So there’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.” When Bergeson, a junior at The Independent School in Wichita, found out about the lack of requirements, he thought, “Oh, I could do that.”
Editorials: Can Youth Suffrage Finally Become a Mainstream Issue in 2020? | Elizabeth King/Pacific Standard
Turning 18 is an exciting time for a lot of American teenagers: Once turned the age of majority, one is suddenly allowed to buy tobacco, enlist in the armed services, gamble, and, come election time, head to the polls and vote. And yet, maybe 18 shouldn’t be the franchise gatekeeper that it is: Teenagers under 18 are stakeholders in a variety of local and national issues (education, transportation, and labor rights, to name a few), as the past two years have shown. After the election of Donald Trump, teenagers in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area walked out of school in November, and took to the streets to march. California high schoolers in Santa Barbara, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego staged similar walkouts, among other forms of peaceful protest. Those under 18 were unable to participate in politics at the ballot box because of their age, but advocates for youth suffrage hope this won’t always be the case, and are working to lower the voting age to 16. In a country where the president waxes political to a crowd of teenage Boy Scouts, politics are visibly changing the lives of American teens—and youth-suffrage activists are looking to maximize the opportunity to revive their cause.
Oregon continues to lead the way in expanding voter access with the passage Monday of Senate Bill 802 which gives 16-year-olds the ability to pre-register to vote. Under current Oregon law, an otherwise qualified person who is at least 17 years of age may pre-register to vote. This legislation will lower that to age 16 so that Oregon is able to include, as part of the Motor Voter law, the nearly 20,000 16-year-olds who are licensed in Oregon every year. Without this change, it could take another eight years before those individuals again interact with the Department of Motor Vehicles and are automatically registered.
Evan Low knows about getting involved in politics at an early age. Elected to the state Assembly in 2014, he became the youngest Asian-American legislator in California’s history. Now he’s working to challenge another governmental age restriction: lowering the statewide voting age to 17. “I chair the elections committee,” Low (D-Campbell) told San Jose Inside. “My focus has been on the electoral process. As a millennial and a political science teacher, this issue is near and dear to me.”
In an effort to get more young people involved in the democratic process, many states are attempting lowering the voting age to 17 to get young people active. “A lot of young people last year wanted to make their voices heard but were unable to do so because the rules prevented them,” said Jonathan Brater of the Brennan Center for Democracy. Since 1971, the legal voting age in the United States has been 18, lowered from 21. Today like then, the numerous states across the U.S are attempting to lower the voting age in the General Election to 17 tend to have strong Democratic majorities in their State senators and House legislatures. Among them, California, Minnesota, and Nevada are the most prominent states in this effort, with California leading the way. If constitutional amendment 10 passes in California, 17-year old’s, would be allowed to vote in the general election during a Presidential election.