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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

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Confirmed Cases: 11851

Reported Deaths: 232
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah282472
Marion183153
Washington181520
Umatilla9877
Clackamas95527
Union3692
Lincoln3615
Malheur3021
Lane2943
Deschutes2520
Yamhill1949
Jackson1780
Linn17410
Polk17312
Jefferson1630
Morrow1381
Klamath1351
Wasco1161
Benton1126
Hood River1040
Douglas600
Josephine571
Clatsop550
Coos540
Columbia480
Lake240
Crook181
Tillamook160
Wallowa140
Baker110
Curry90
Sherman40
Harney20
Gilliam10
Grant10
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 318761

Reported Deaths: 7027
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1303943795
Riverside24765537
Orange23901421
San Diego19371422
San Bernardino18912304
Fresno790687
Imperial7827135
Alameda7725148
Kern633997
San Joaquin627968
Santa Clara5983166
Tulare5678152
Sacramento533981
Stanislaus463351
Contra Costa460589
San Francisco442650
Ventura424653
San Mateo3949112
Santa Barbara393131
Marin343430
Kings289839
Monterey254018
Solano207528
Merced188412
Sonoma165014
Placer105511
San Luis Obispo9054
Madera8938
Yolo83928
Santa Cruz5683
Napa4774
Sutter3724
Butte3384
San Benito3362
El Dorado3070
Lassen2750
Shasta1876
Yuba1803
Humboldt1654
Glenn1640
Nevada1631
Colusa1130
Mendocino1130
Lake1081
Tehama1041
Calaveras670
Tuolumne640
Del Norte600
Mono501
Siskiyou410
Amador400
Inyo341
Mariposa311
Plumas170
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
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