A bill set to be introduced in the D.C. Council on Tuesday would lower the voting age for both local and federal elections from 18 to 16. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is introducing the bill, says that given all the other responsibilities 16-year-olds already have, they should also have the right to vote on who represents them. “At the age of 16, our society already gives young people greater legal responsibility. They can drive a car. They can work. Some are raising a family or helping their family make ends meet. They pay taxes,” he said in a statement. “And yet, they can’t exercise their voice where it matters most — at the ballot box.”
D.C. already allows 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and also permits 17-year-olds to register to vote and cast ballots in primary elections provided they will be 18 on or before the next scheduled general election.
But Allen’s bill would put D.C. on par with three jurisdictions in Maryland — including Takoma Park, Hyattsville and Greenbelt — where 16-year-olds can cast ballots in local elections, while making D.C. the first place in the country to similarly lower the voting age for federal elections. There are close to 12,000 16- and 17-year-olds in D.C.