Resources

Research

LOWERING THE VOTING AGE WHITE PAPER

Often, at first glance, lowering the voting age to 16 provokes incredulity from the public. Why should we lower the voting age if 18 year olds do not even vote in the first place? And aren’t 16
year olds just kids? The reality is that lowering the voting age provides an opportunity to strengthen our democracy and increase voter turnout in the long-term, and is a basic concept of rights and fairness.

vote 16 san francisco fact sheet & faqs

“Why should 16 and 17 year olds be allowed to vote in municipal elections?” “Isn’t there already poor turnout among young voters? Wouldn’t we just be wasting our time allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote?” “Are teens ready to vote? Will they really understand the issues?” “Can teens really vote independently? Won’t they just vote the same as their parents?”

Youth Voting: State and city approaches to early civic engagement

Although a quality civic education is critical for academic achievement and engagement and contributes to the development of career skills and adult civic responsibility, many students are not provided with enough opportunities for civic learning inside or outside of the classroom. For most students, opportunities for real world experiences and direct engagement with the political process are limited, if they exist at all. Not surprising, then, is the continued documentation of inadequate civics proficiency for students under the age of 18, and the less-than-remarkable voter turnout for young people aged 18-29.

 

a case study: TAKOMA PARK & HYATTSVILLE, MD

In 2013, Takoma Park, Maryland became the first municipality in the United States to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds when its city council passed a charter amendment to lower the voting age for local elections. Hyattsville, a neighboring city, made the same change in 2015.

 

American sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are ready to vote

Extending the right to vote to 16- and 17-year-olds is particularly important at this point in American history. The proportion of the American population composed of children has declined dramatically in the past 40 years, while the fraction of older voters, who are less inclined to support policies beneficial to the
interests of children and youth, is increasing rapidly.