by Guy Page
Rep. Peter Welch voted yes an amendment to the HR1 “For the People” act that, had it passed, would have lowered the mandatory minimum voting age for federal elections to 16.
The amendment, proposed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), was defeated 125-302. It was supported by Progressive Democrats but opposed by other Democrats and all Republicans. A similar amendment, also supported by Welch, failed by a wider margin last year.
Without the amendment, HR1 was approved by the House March 3 and will soon go before the US Senate.
The town of Brattleboro in 2019 voted to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in local elections. “We as youth feel that we deserve a voice in local government because we are active members of this town and we are fully affected by town issues and policies. We drive cars, have jobs, pay taxes, and we have a big impact on movements all around the globe. We should have an impact at the polls,” according to a statement by charter change support group ‘Brattleboro Common Sense’ that appeared in the March 27 VT Digger.
However, this charter change must be approved by the Vermont Legislature, where it went nowhere in the 2019-20 session. This year, Brattleboro representatives February 26 introduced H361, a Brattleboro charter change “to allow youth voters to vote in certain town elections.”
H361 was sent to House Government Operations committee. It is not scheduled to be discussed this week, and its future is uncertain.
The website procon.org lists three pros to 16-year-old voting:
- 16 year olds and knowledgeable and capable of making wise decisions.
- Lowering the voting age will increase turnout.
- At age 16, people should have a voice in determining their nation’s laws and policies.
and three cons:
- Kids under age 18 aren’t mature enough to participate in elections.
- The 18-29 age group has low turnout numbers, suggesting people even younger aren’t ready to participate.
- The majority of voting Americans do not support 16 year old voting.
Photo credit for thumbnail photo jlpp.org.