People as young as 16 in the nation’s capital may soon be able to get their driver’s license and vote in a presidential election in one fell swoop.
Washington, D.C., council member Charles Allen proposed legislation to lower the voting age in the District from 18 to 16. Allen told the Washington Post the “March for Our Lives” rally earlier this year shows that young people should help choose their leaders. He also said that 16 should be the voting age based on the fact that teens can drive, work and pay taxes at that age.
“It’s pretty hard for anyone to watch the events of the last couple of months and not understand the pure power and maturity of incredibly young voices,” Allen said. “They were powerful. They were thoughtful. They were leading. I don’t see how anyone could hear any of those voices and think that person couldn’t make an informed decision like anyone else.”
Allen proposed similar legislation back in 2015, but it did not come up for a vote.
WTOP-FM reports the bill won 3-0 approval in the Judiciary and Public Safety committee Thursday and will get a final vote before the full council this month.
The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens 18 and older the right to vote, but scholars have said it doesn’t prevent a state, or in this case, the nation’s capital, from setting a lower age.
Allen says his bill will “enfranchise the District’s young people and bring their voices into the political process.”
“There are a whole lot of challenges that young people face in this city,” said Nadia Mortiz, executive director of the Young Women’s Project, a nonprofit leading the D.C. coalition to support Allen’s bill. “Young people are part of that solution. They understand the problems, they experience the problems.”
“A lot of issues to people who are eligible to vote now are issues that affect 16- and 17-year-olds,” 16-year-old Alik Schier told The Post. “We care about education, we care about fair housing and we care about gun violence, especially.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.