Oregon lawmakers seek to lower state voting age to 16

Democratic lawmakers in Oregon announced a measure on Monday to lower the state’s voting age from 18 to 16.

Oregon state Sen. Shemia Fagan (D) said teenagers are “begging us to take action to protect their future,” The Oregonian reported.

Young residents should have “a chance to participate in the ballot — about decisions that affect their homes, their clean air, their future, their schools and, as we’ve seen, their very lives,” Fagan said at a news conference announcing the measure to lower the age ahead of the 2020 general election.

Student activists said they deserved the right to vote before their 18th birthday.

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"We need to be able to take our work to the ballot and protect the policies we’re working so hard to pass,” Marie Torres, a high school senior, said.

The U.S. voting age was last changed in 1971 after a decades-long fight to lower it from 21. Supporters of the 26th Amendment argued that any citizen who was old enough to be drafted into the military at age 18 to fight in the Vietnam War should also be allowed to vote.

If the measure passes in Oregon, it would be become the first state in the nation to lower the statewide voting age to 16.

Thirteen other states have introduced bills since 2003 to lower the voting age, some for just school board elections and some for all state elections, but none of the measures have passed, The Statesman Journal noted.