DC City Council to vote on letting 16 year olds vote

DC City Council to vote on letting 16 year olds vote
© Moriah Ratner

A Washington, D.C., City Council committee on Thursday unanimously passed a bill that would lower to 16 the age to vote in federal and local elections.

The D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety approved the measure, which will now be added to the Nov. 13 City Council meeting, WJLA news reported.

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A majority of the full City Council will need to vote in favor of the measure before it is sent to the mayor for signing. It will also have to undergo the required 30-day congressional review period before it becomes an official act.

A total of eight of the 13 council members have already announced support, the local television station reported.

The new law would allow approximately 10,400 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17 to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Nearly 80 percent of the teenagers who would be affected the rule change are youth of color, the outlet noted.

The voting age in the country was last changed in 1971 when people 18 years old and older were granted the right to vote.

D.C. Councilor Charles Allen (D) introduced the measure in April after seeing students protest weeks prior during the “March for Our Lives” event against gun violence.

Allen said that a teenager’s legal relationship with the government changes when they turn 16.

“Young people work and pay income taxes. Some are raising a family or helping their family make ends meet. They can drive a car," Allen said. "Ironically, they pay fees to get a license plate that reads ‘End Taxation Without Representation.’ I think it’s time to change that.”

The initiative has been supported by Vote16Dec, a coalition pushing for the voting age to be lowered. 

"DC is poised to become the first major American city to grant voting-rights to 16- and 17-year-olds,” Vote16DC Campaign Manager Dave Chandrasekaran said.  "At a time when political discourse in this country is so divisive, it's really inspiriting to witness how passionate D.C. youth are about having a voice and positively influencing our community."