Roper: Giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote

Why not? Who cares if it’s ridiculous and unconstitutional?

by Rob Roper

PJ O’Rourke famously wrote, giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. Well, if only PJ had lived to see that the Vermont legislature has done him one better by giving to those very same liquored-up teenage boys … and girls… access to actual money and political power.

Yes, the town of Brattleboro decided it might be a good idea to let sixteen and seventeen-year-olds vote in local elections and even hold public office. You know, those lovable scamps skipping class to make out in the band room or sneak puffs off a joint behind the dumpsters in the high school parking lot. The ones whose mothers need to remind them to make their beds and clean their rooms at least once a year. The ones who’ve most likely never held a full-time job, let alone made a mortgage payment, or cut a check to cover their local property taxes. Yes, them.

And we’re talking about Brattleboro teenagers no less — who made national news when they thought it would be a good idea to start wandering around town naked just to see how people would react. These are the thought processes you want on your city council answering questions about how to handle the Agricultural Advisory Committee’s recommendation regarding the Ag Land Preservation Fund? Okay.

Certainly, saner heads would prevail in the Capitol when Brattleboro’s request for a charter change allowing this foolishness reached the General Assembly for approval. For one thing, the idea is blatantly unconstitutional. Section 42 of the Vermont Constitution, Voter’s qualifications and oath, reads, “Every person of the full age of eighteen years who is a citizen of the United States,… shall be entitled to all the privileges of a voter of this state.” If common sense weren’t enough, you’d think at least that would be the end of it.

Oh, but you would be wrong. Things like the constitution don’t matter to this crowd. H.386 amending the town charter of Brattleboro to allow “youth voters” to vote for local offices and serve as members of Representative Town Meeting and the Select Board passed 103 to 33 on a largely party-line vote (Democrats and Progressives in favor, Republicans opposed.) That is a veto-proof majority.  

This is similar to the 102-47 vote taken a year ago on the same request. The House overrode the governor’s veto, but the bill ended up dying in the Senate despite having passed with a seemingly veto proof majority of 20-9 in that equally goofy body. So here we go again.

In registering her objections to this insanity a year ago, House Minority Leader Pattie McCoy (R-Poultney) noted,

…according to the framework Democrats have structured, those same 16-year-olds would have to wait two years before they could play the lottery or join the military; 6 years before they could purchase alcohol or tobacco; and 7 years before they could be considered an adult for criminal proceedings…. In fact, when Vermont Democrats recently worked to raise the age of “youthful offenders” through age 22, they cited research indicating that these younger individuals take more risks, are more prone to peer pressure, and are less future oriented.”

Brilliant! Give kids access to the town coffers, while making it impossible to charge them as adults if they embezzle every last penny to spend on bubble gum flavored vape juice. Or are they too young to buy that?

But here’s where Rep. McCoy misses the mark. It is precisely because these politicians know that inexperienced, developing, often confused young people are more prone to peer pressure, are more likely to do stupid things, and care less about future consequences that they can be easily manipulated. And manipulate them for their own political purposes is exactly what they intend to do.  

The truly sad part in all of this is that we can see how the increased politicization of school and school children is leading to increased levels of anxiety and mental health issues — and all that comes with that — among adolescents. Let kids be kids.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Categories: Commentary

16 replies »

  1. So can the 16 and 17 years old in Brattleboro vote next year to reinstate the right to marry at the age of 16 and 17 that this same legislature took away in their latest bill- due to their maturity levels. What a joke.

  2. This was voted in by Democrats and progressives because they know that our children have recieved the right political education due to woke indoctrination courtesy of the NEA. This agenda is in service of the progressive socialist agenda, which is equivalent to the United Nations Agenda 2030.

  3. The question we should be asking is how we convince the youth to vote moderate-to-conservative, rather than why the Progs want kids to vote…for THEM. If we create a large enough group of youth that vote conservative it’s easy to imagine how quickly that age limit will go back up. It’s something that needs to happen if conservatives actually want to see their values continued. But we need to work with voters rather than in spite of them. As things stand what we’re doing isn’t working. Period.

    • I agree completely, but conservatives have no access to discuss important issues to youth. Yes, conservatives can speak with small pockets of children, possibly involved with a church. The only people given access to the public school children are progressives. I lived in Essex and a progressive socialist was allowed to work and help the school children. Interestingly enough, the school board knew of her “helping the children”, but none of the parents knew. The same politician is then allowed to give a speech during the raising of the BLM flag, which is the precursor to the Social Justice curriculum and segregating children into affinity spaces. No conservative/Republican has been allowed to speak at any school in this state and that isn’t going to change. Essex and peer pressure was so successful in brainwashing my child that she listens to nothing I say. She knows everything because the school and her friends told her the facts.

      • We need conservative adults to get rid of some teachers. However, before that happens, parents have to go to school board meetings and talk to the teachers BEFORE they can get their hands on the children.

  4. Lets see, the mature 16 and 17 year olds can absolutely vote for any utopian idea our progressive adults propose, without worrying about what it will cost or the effect on the future of Vermont.
    At that age I still believed they should stop wars in the spirit on the Olympics.
    But I am sure they are much smarter now.
    Don’t you and I wish.

  5. This is insane. Half of our national graduating seniors today can’t do math beyond a 6th grade level. Are we to assume their understanding of civics is any different? Time in the work place, active participation in our economy (renting, mortgage, utility bills, fuel and food costs, etc.) interaction with a broad array of Americans beyond their peers…these are necessary components one must experience prior to casting an informed ballot. If anything, based on the number of young people working, driving and self sufficiently living on their own we should be raising the voting age, not lowering it. This is blatant rigging of the polls. We can all see it abd our legislators just don’t care.

  6. Constitution of the State of Vermont

    Article 6. [Officers servants of the people]
    That all power being originally inherent in and co[n]sequently derived from the people, therefore, all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are their trustees and servants; and at all times, in a legal way, accountable to them.
    Article 8. [Elections to be free and pure; rights of voters therein]
    That all elections ought to be free and without corruption, and that all voters, having a sufficient, evident, common interest with, and attachment to the community, have a right to elect officers, and be elected into office, agreeably to the regulations made in this constitution.

    § 42. [Voter’s qualifications and oath]
    Every person of the full age of eighteen years who is a citizen of the United States, having resided in this State for the period established by the General Assembly and who is of a quiet and peaceable behavior, and will take the following oath or affirmation, shall be entitled to all the privileges of a voter of this state:
    You solemnly swear (or affirm) that whenever you give your vote or suffrage, touching any matter that concerns the State of Vermont, you will do it so as in your conscience you shall judge will most conduce to the best good of the same, as established by the Constitution, without fear or favor of any person.
    Every person who will attain the full age of eighteen years by the date of the general election who is a citizen of the United States, having resided in this State for the period established by the General Assembly and who is of a quiet and peaceable behavior, and will take the oath or affirmation set forth in this section, shall be entitled to vote in the primary election.

    Appears any laws passed that allows minors or non-citizens to vote violates the Vermont Consititution. Hence, they are violators of the law and must be prosecuted. So, those who swore the oath must be held to account. Is there any elected official, bureaucrat, law enforcement or military person going to uphold their oath? If not, we are no longer a Republic. We are a captured territory, occupied by belligerent enemy combatants.

    • I’m with you, but it has become abundantly clear that the regime in Montpelier is lawless and has no respect for the Constitution, and that includes the judicial branch. We are so screwed.

    • Melissa is 100% correct, and we positively are, in fact, no longer residing within a Constitutional Republic, and those who are responsible for defiling and dismantling it no longer have any qualms in attempting to even try and keep what they do a secret.

      The legislators know full well they are waging war against the government of, by, and for the people with the said people’s own money and they trust no private citizenry group nor the State’s GOP, as but one example, poses any threat to them in challenging these potential illegalities via the courts.

      We are living the nightmares our long-gone founding fathers envisioned would one day materialize.

  7. Groomers. Call them what they are. Trying so hard to pump kids full of crap so they can buy their voted in the future.

  8. This is just more insanity coming out of Montpelier. Everyone knows what this is about, it’s about getting more votes so they can lock in the one-party rule. Shame on any adult who is using youth for political gain. When did we lose the love of our kids and turn them into agenda tools. Shame on Brattleboro and shame on the house members who endorse using children. Betcha the VEA supports this legislation.
    Picture the kids wanting new schools across the state (idea to be planted by education industry), how do you think the kids will vote on budgets? Tsunami of spending on the horizon. Votes from people who are not even fully formed, informed or responsible for any financial responsibilities. This is beyond nuts.

  9. If anything, the voting age should be increased – to 21 – or beyond. The cocktail of pharmaceuticals most kids are on these days seems to be arresting their development.