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DC Council suspends action on bill to lower voting age to 16

DC Council suspends action on bill to lower voting age to 16
© Greg Nash

The Washington, D.C., Council on Tuesday voted to indefinitely delay action on a proposed bill to lower the city's voting age to 16. 

Lawmakers in the body voted 7 to 6 to table the bill, according to The Washington Post.

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The Post notes that the proposal received a significant blow after a pair of councilors who initially introduced the bill flipped their positions.

Anita Bonds, one of the council members to reverse their stance, told the Post that parents had voiced confusion about the bill and that she needed to educate constituents. 

The legislation would have allowed D.C. residents as young as 16 in to cast ballots in federal and local elections starting in 2020. Census data indicates that about 10,000 youth citizens would have become eligible to vote, according to The Post.

Nearly 80 percent of the teenagers who would have been impacted by legislation are youths of color, WJLA, a local ABC affiliate, previously reported.

Several small cities in the U.S. allow minors to vote in local elections. However, no district allows persons under 18 to vote in federal elections. 

D.C. council member Charles Allen introduced the legislation in April. He said he championed the bill after seeing hundreds of students participate in the  "March for Our Lives" event to protest gun violence. 

Allen told The Post that the legislation is "not dead," but noted that "something has to change for the votes to be able to bring it back."

"Clearly, I’ve got some colleagues that are afraid of change. Change can be scary," he said.