In most U.S. states, a typical 16-year-old can drive a car, get married, hold a job and pay taxes on the income they earn from that job. Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison believes there’s another thing 16-year-olds should be allowed to do: vote. Last week, Ellison tweeted, “I think the voting age should be lowered to 16. What do you think?” It wasn’t the first time he had expressed his view about the voting age; he did so in 2012, also on Twitter. Speaking with MinnPost last week, Ellison says he was inspired to take up the cause a few years ago, recalling a visit with high school students in Minneapolis. “One of the students said to me, ‘How come we can’t vote? We pay sales tax and payroll tax.’ I said, it makes a lot of sense to me. What could go wrong if 16-year-olds could vote? A lot could go right.” Continued visits with high school students have shored up that point of view: Ellison says he is frequently impressed by the knowledge of high school students, adding that they sometimes know more about the issues than adults.
It’s hardly common for federal-level officeholders to push for lowering the voting age; Ellison mentioned some state legislators who share his stance, but not any members of Congress. But supporting a policy like this is characteristic of the five-term congressman from Minneapolis, who is a vocal advocate for voting rights and has supported an array of policies aimed at expanding the franchise. In the past few months, Ellison has introduced a get-out-the-vote initiative, entitled Voters First, and he has also sponsored legislation that would establish same-day voter registration and ban voter ID laws nationwide.
Some say that lowering the voting age, like other turnout-boosting practices, will disproportionately benefit Democratic and progressive candidates at the ballot box. Eric Ostermeier, who studies politics at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has researched these kinds of get-out-the-vote policies, and says the raw numbers back up the Democratic advantage.
Full Article: Voting rights’ next frontier: 16 year-olds? | MinnPost.