Want to get your students to pay attention to politics and civics? Debate the voting age. Debating the current voting age, and questioning whether 16-year-olds should have the right to vote is a surefire way to get your students excited to explore this issue.
The organization Vote16 USA is a national campaign, organized by Generation Citizen, that supports efforts to obtain voting rights for 16- and 17-year-old youth on the local level, also works to promote the issue on a national level. Their campaign Vote16DC is a coalition of DC youth, adult allies, and local organizations, working to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in Washington, D.C.
In the article Meet the DC Teenagers Campaigning for the Right to Vote, one of the group’s founders, Alik Schier, states, “When I heard the bill was being introduced, I thought this is the perfect time to do this. The attention’s on young people, the spotlight’s on us—we have the nation’s attention,” Schier says. “I was really excited to finally let my voice be heard for real.”
While many believed this bill had a chance to pass, the historic event was delayed today with a 7-6 vote to table the bill. DC Council Declines to Take Up Bill to Lower Voting Age to 16 explains the lawmakers’ decision to hold their vote.
Charles Allen, the D.C. Council member who wrote the legislation, said, “it was time to expand political power to young people, whose lives are affected by issues including climate change, education and gun safety, [but] they have no power, because they cannot vote.” These 16 year olds will have to wait.
The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to vote for people 18 and older but does not prohibit states from setting a lower age