Lower the Voting Age to 16 for Local Elections

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About the movement

Generation Citizen's mission is to ensure that every young person in this country receives an effective action civics education. As part of this mission, we are launching Vote16USA, an initiative to promote lowering the voting age to 16. We feel that such a policy move could excite young people about politics, spur a conversation on the importance of youth political participation, and motivate schools to teach action civics.   

Vote16USA aims to support local campaigns to lower the voting age and elevate the issue on a national level, while ensuring that young voices remain at the front and center of the effort. 

Why lower the voting age?

  • Lowering the voting age can drive demand for better civic education in schools, and the combination of a lower voting age and better civics education can create a virtuous cycle that dramatically boosts civic engagement.
  • Lowering the voting age can increase voter turnout and strengthen our democracy in the long run, as voting is habitual and statistics show that age 16 is a better time than 18 to acquire the habit of voting.
  • Sixteen- and 17-year olds can drive in most states, work and pay taxes on their income, and are sometimes tried in adult courts. Further, local political decisions have great influence on the lives of 16- and 17-year-olds. They deserve to vote, and research shows they are mature enough to do so.
  • The most reliable way for citizens to influence the government is through their votes, but those under 18 are unfairly excluded from the electorate. Letting 16- and 17-year-olds vote in municipal elections would force local politicians to listen to their voices.

Where has it been done?

  • Takoma Park and Hyattsville, Maryland successfully lowered the voting age in their cities to 16 for local elections in 2013 and 2015, respectively.
  • Countries around the world have voting ages lower than 18 for everything from national elections to local races. They include Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, and Scotland. Proposals to lower the voting age are under consideration in Canada and the UK.

What campaigns are underway?

  • The San Francisco Youth Commission is carrying out a campaign to lower the voting age in the city. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the proposal in spring 2016. If passed, it will go before the city’s voters.
  • A Washington, D.C. city council member has introduced a bill to lower the voting age in the nation's capital. A broad #16toVote coalition is advocating for the bill.
  • And more - check out for the latest on new campaigns and advocacy efforts. 

Want to learn more or get involved?

The New York Times published a feature story on the campaign!

Organized by Generation Citizen

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