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Oregon teens push for lowering voting age to 16

Legislators are considering changing the state constitution to lower the voting age to 16 in all elections, including for federal office. The move would ultimately need approval from voters in the 2020 ballot.

Posted: Mar 27, 2019 4:59 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2019 2:49 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of teens spent their spring break pleading with Oregon state lawmakers to consider lowering the voting age to 16, saying young people deserve a say on issues that will directly shape their future including gun control and global climate change.

"The decisions our election officials make now will affect us for the rest of our lives, which is why we need a say," Jeremy Clark, a 14-year-old from Portland, testified on Wednesday. "We are tired of waiting for the adults to take action."

Legislators are considering changing the state constitution to lower the voting age to 16 in all elections, including for federal office. The move would ultimately need approval from voters in the 2020 ballot.

Teens around the country have emerged as a powerful political force since a school shooting at Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and teachers dead. Students have since staged multiple school walkouts calling for more gun control, and have separately staged political demonstrations demanding action on climate change.

The idea to lower the voting age has picked up some national support, gaining the endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A push to lower the voting age on the federal level fell short earlier this month.

The move to lower the voting age in Oregon also has the approval of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer.


CLICK HERE to visit the Oregon State Legislature's page and monitor the progress of SJR 22, the "Our Future, Our Vote" Act.


"Sixteen-year-olds are legally permitted to work, required to pay income tax on their earnings, permitted to drive motor vehicles on their own, and can be tried as adults in the criminal justice system," Blumenauer said in written testimony. "It stands to reason that they should be able to shape their future by participating in the political process as well."

But opponents say that teens aren't mature enough to understand the political process, and that they're too young to own property or enlist in the military. Republicans add that the move is a Democratic bid to get more liberal voters.

"People are not legally considered adults in this country until they are 18 years old, and I believe they shouldn't be able to vote until then either," said Oregon Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger, Jr., of Grants Pass. "This is nothing more than an attempt to expand the voter rolls to sway elections."

The 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1971. While states cannot raise the minimum voting age, they can lower it in state and local elections. Thirteen states have introduced measures to let teens vote, though none have passed.

Two Maryland cities, Takoma Park and Hyattsville, let 16-year-olds vote in city council elections.

Oregon is one of 14 states to let 16-year-olds pre-register to vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. At least 195,500 young people preregistered in the state since the program began in 2007, with nearly half of them preregistering between 2016 and 2018. At least 18,800 of those pre-registered voters who turned 18 before the 2018 midterm elections cast a ballot, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.

"Being young doesn't mean we can't make educated decisions," said Amira Tripp Folsom, a junior at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory near Portland. "The changes being made to our future should be decided by those actually impacted."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 353368

Reported Deaths: 4226
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55417699
Washington38425317
Marion36469448
Clackamas29440306
Lane27431300
Jackson22837305
Deschutes19958125
Umatilla14358145
Linn12672126
Douglas11962243
Josephine9307195
Yamhill8621111
Klamath7846116
Polk724881
Malheur555376
Benton541931
Coos495494
Columbia377043
Jefferson367752
Union316548
Lincoln315438
Wasco284840
Crook281846
Clatsop242029
Baker199928
Tillamook195529
Hood River190537
Morrow183423
Curry179425
Harney111926
Grant99512
Lake91012
Wallowa67612
Gilliam1524
Sherman1483
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4830872

Reported Deaths: 70874
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147942126446
Riverside3706085008
San Diego3652534170
San Bernardino3576395606
Orange3235695531
Sacramento1587852294
Fresno1453782063
Kern1452271616
Santa Clara1451271895
Alameda1203661384
San Joaquin1023411721
Ventura1008491165
Contra Costa99712995
Stanislaus857501325
Tulare79627958
San Francisco54266644
San Mateo54023622
Monterey50792583
Solano45934339
Santa Barbara45047522
Merced42089579
Sonoma40865402
Placer39157420
Imperial35832764
Kings32649320
San Luis Obispo29837331
Madera23720285
Butte23673265
Shasta23574349
Santa Cruz20943218
Yolo20266248
Marin17665244
El Dorado17097149
Sutter13861172
Napa12864100
Yuba1001982
Tehama9433107
Humboldt9180107
Nevada911690
Mendocino758487
Lassen753046
San Benito741672
Tuolumne682889
Lake6583104
Amador540764
Siskiyou446442
Glenn434232
Calaveras386580
Del Norte357441
Colusa303018
Inyo205540
Mono16643
Plumas16126
Mariposa132315
Trinity86911
Modoc6755
Unassigned2120
Sierra1820
Alpine1030
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