Young activists in San Francisco holding signs advocating for a lower voting age

(Last updated June 5, 2017.)

On this page:
Places you can vote before turning 18
Currently active campaigns to lower the voting age in the US
History of campaigns to lower the voting age below 18 in the US
Voting ages in other countries

Places you can vote before turning 18

Cities that have a minimum voting age of 16
Berkeley, California – school board elections
Hyattsville, Maryland – all local elections
Takoma Park, Maryland – all local elections

States that allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries
Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote in the presidential or congressional primaries or party caucuses, if turning 18 before the general election. Primaries are state elections and voter eligibility is determined by state legislation, while caucus eligibility is determined by party policy in each state. Some caucuses may allow participation to party members that are not eligible to vote and you should ask the party in your state, even if not listed here.
Alaska – Democratic Caucus only
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Hawaii – Democratic Caucus only
Idaho – Democratic Caucus only
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa – Caucuses only
Kansas – Democratic caucus only
Kentucky
Maine
Maryland
Minnesota – Caucuses only
Mississippi
Nebraska
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota – Caucuses only
Ohio
South Carolina
Vermont
Virginia
Washington – Democratic Caucus only
West Virginia
Wyoming – Democratic Caucus only

Currently active campaigns to lower the voting age in the US

California
Statewide: Assemblymember Evan Low introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 10 which would lower the voting age from 18 to 17. Track the current status of ACA 10 here.

Fairfax, CA: The Fairfax Town Council voted unanimously to establish a subcommittee to coordinate community discussion and on lowering the voting age to 16 for local ballot measures. The Council will also conduct a feasibility study with the goal of placing a measure on the November 2017 ballot.

Richmond, CA: The Richmond Youth Council is exploring drafting a bill to lower the voting age for local elections.

San Francisco, CA: Vote16SF is planning to put a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 on the 2020 ballot.

Colorado
Statewide: Student Voice, Student Vote is working to lower the voting age to 16 for school board elections throughout the state.

Boulder, CO: Members of the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board of Boulder, Colorado offer reasons to their city council as to why 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote.

District of Columbia
Three DC Councilmembers introduced the Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2015 to lower the voting age  voting age to 16 in all elections. Track the current status of the Youth Vote Amendment Act here.

Florida
Statewide: Activist Jack Levine is pushing to lower the voting age to 16 for school board elections throughout Florida.

Broward County, FL: Members of NYRA-Broward County are working to lower the voting age in Broward County through the County Commission.

Massachusetts
Shelburne, MA: Activist Max Carr successfully required his town to submit a petition to the state legislature to allow the town to lower the voting age to sixteen.

Ashfield, MA: Activist Aaron Nelson replicated this process in the neighboring town of Ashfield.

New York
A bill sponsored by Assemblymember Robert Carroll, who credited three high school students for the idea, would strive to lower the voting age from 18 to 17. Track this bill here.

Texas
Texas Vote16 campaigns to get representatives in the Texas legislature to introduce a bill to lower the voting age to 16 throughout the state and then move forward to other states. It was established March 16, 2016 in NYRA’s chapter in Fort Worth, Texas.

A History of Movements to Lower the Voting Age in the United States

Alaska

2003 – Youth Civic Rights Movement proposes a ballot measure for a voting age of sixteen for Anchorage. Proposal failed by a single vote in the Anchorage Assembly, but an advisory vote to lower the voting age was placed on the ballot. It was defeated by the voters.

Arizona

2008 – State Representative Ed Ableser (D-Tempe) introduced a constitutional amendment that would lower the voting age in the state to 16. Proposal stalled awaiting first reading.

2015 – A similar bill was introduced by a group of nine State Representatives. It died in committee.

2016 – A bill  to lower the voting age to 16 was introduced in the state legislature. It died in committee with 11 co-sponsors.

California

1995 – Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (D-South San Francisco) proposed a voting age of fourteen. Proposal died in committee.

2004 – State Senator John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) proposed one-quarter vote for fourteen year-olds and one-half vote for sixteen year-olds. The bill was amended after being approved by two committees to instead allow people 16 years of age and older a full vote in state elections. It was later abandoned due to lack of support.

2005 – NYRA-Berkeley and Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington submitted a proposal that would have allowed voters to decide if 16 and 17-year-olds should be eligible to vote in local elections. The proposal failed 4-5.

2005 – NYRA-Berkeley also worked on lowering the voting age in San Francisco, and on July 12, 2005 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution 8-2 urging the California legislature to pass a bill that will allow any city or county to lower its local voting age to 16.

2016 – California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) proposed a constitutional amendment to allow all Californians aged 16 and older to vote in their local school board and community college district governing board elections. The bill died in committee with 8 sponsors.

2016 – Vote16SF and other youth rights activists successfully put a measure on the ballot – Proposition F – to lower the voting age in San Francisco for local elections. Voters voted on the measure on November 8, 2016. The proposition earned more than 172,000 votes to finish at 48%, just shy of the 50% threshold needed to pass.

Connecticut

2000 – NYRA-DC held a Lower the Vote rally on election day, November 7, in Franklin Park calling attention to the disenfranchisement of young people.

2011 – A group called The New 18 campaigned to lower the voting age to 16 in the city of New Haven. The New Haven Board of Aldermen’s Youth Services Committee voted in favor of asking the full Board of Aldermen to send a non-binding referendum to local voters to ask the state to lower the voting age to 16. The proposal failed to get sufficient votes by the full Board.

Hawaii

2015 – Eight State Representatives sponsored a bill to lower the voting age to 16 for state and local elections. The bill died in committee.

Florida

2003 – High school student Miranda Rosenberg sought to get a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 on the state ballot. Rosenberg was not able to obtain the 489,000 signatures required.

2008 – NYRA-Southeast Florida began a campaign to lower the voting age to 16 in Florida elections. The chapter held rallies on election day, met with state legislators and filmed (and aired) a commercial making their case for a lower voting age.

Illinois

2008 – State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) introduced a state Constitutional Amendment to lower the voting age to 17. The bill passed committee, but was tabled and then stalled.

Iowa

2004 – Student Anne Craig campaigned to lower the voting age to 14. Three different bills were introduced in the legislature to lower the voting age during that year and the previous, but none of them were successful.

Maine

2003 – State Representative Glenn Cummings (D-Portland) proposed a bill to lower the voting age to 17. The bill was amended to only allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary election if 18 by general election, which passed.

Maryland

2003 – Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon campaigned to lower the municipal voting age to 16.

2003 – NYRA-DC sought to put a referendum to lower the Voting Age in Takoma Park to 16 on the ballot. It failed to get enough signatures.

2013 – Takoma Park councilman, Tim Male, introduced a measure to lower the municipal voting age to 16. On May 13, 2013 the measure passed the city council on a vote of 5-1 before a packed auditorium of local youth, NYRA members and other supporters. The first 16-year-old in US history to cast a legal vote in a general election occurred on November 5, 2013.

2014 – Inspired by the success in nearby Takoma Park, Hyattsville city council member Patrick Paschall introduced a bill to lower the voting age in city elections. After a brief campaign by NYRA members and other supporters the bill passed on January 12, 2015 with a vote of 7 to 4. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds voted in the city election on May 5, 2015.

2015 – After two Montgomery County Councilmembers expressed support for lowering the voting age, a Maryland state bill was introduced that would allow the county to lower its voting age for school board elections. It passed the Education Committee and the House Delegation Committee, but stalled committee.

Massachusetts

1999-2002 – A group of students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School calling themselves Campaign for a Democratic Future, began campaigning to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections in the city of Cambridge. In 2001,Campaign for a Democratic Future proposed that Cambridge City Council members approve a petition to the state legislature asking for permission to lower the voting age for city council and school committee elections to 16. It was later amended to reduce the voting age to 17 and failed 6-3. It was introduced again in 2002 and passed 8-1. The bill was sent to study by the state legislature and failed to meet the filing deadline.

2005 – A similar proposal was submitted by the Cambridge Kids Council’s youth involvement subcommittee and passed again. It evolved into a bill sponsored by State Representative Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge), but stalled in a committee with no hearing.

2007 – Students at Harwich High School began a campaign to get a 16-year-old voting age on the ballot in Massachusetts. Despite receiving help from a variety of other schools and colleges, proposal failed to get the 66,593 required signatures by December 5th deadline.

2010 – Young people from the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell campaigned to lower the voting age to 17 for local elections. Lowell City Councillors voted 8-1 in favor of sending a Home Rule Petition to the state legislature to allow Lowell to lower its voting age for municipal elections. A bill sponsored by State Representative Kevin J. Murphy (D-Lowell) cleared several hurdles, and finally stalled before a third reading.

2015 – A group of young people in North Andover petitioned to lower the voting age to 16 in local elections. Town meeting residents voted against the measure.

Michigan

2000 – NYRA-Ottawa County held a Lower the Vote rally on election day, November 7, in Holland, MI to raise awareness about lowering the voting age.

2008 – State Senator Michael Switalski (D-Roseville) introduced legislation to allow 16-year old students to vote in local school board elections. The bill stalled in the Committee on Campaign and Election Oversight.

Minnesota

1989-2016 – State Representative Phyllis Kahn (DFL-Minneapolis) proposed a voting age of twelve. The proposal did not pass committee. Kahn co-authored several other proposals to lower the voting age to 16 in 1991, 1999, 2001, 2004 (to age 17), 2007, 2007 (for school elections only), 2009, 2012, and two more in 2015 for state and local elections and for school elections only. None of these bills made it out of committee.

2004 – State Senator Steve Kelley (DFL-Hopkins) proposed a bill lowering the voting age to 17. The proposal passed its first committee, but was re-referred and stalled.

2006 – Seventeen-year-old NYRA member Jesse L. Hunter attempted to vote as a protest, but was mistakenly given a ballot and allowed to vote. The first known time someone under 18 was allowed to vote in the US in a general election. He was later charged with felony voter fraud before having the charges dropped in response to NYRA objections.

2009 – State Senator Sandra Pappas introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16, which stalled in committee.

Missouri

2014 – State Representative Karla May (D-St.Louis) filed a joint resolution to amend the state constitution to reduce the voting age to 16 for state and local elections. The bill stalled in the House Elections Committee.

Nevada

2016 – Activists worked on campaign to lower the voting age to 16 for school board elections.

New Jersey

2016 – NYRA-Hudson County launched a campaign to lower the voting age to 16 in Jersey City. A motion to lower the voting age was introduced to the Jersey City Council, but was defeated 7-2.

New Mexico

2015 – State Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque) introduced a bill lowering the voting age to 16. The bill stalled in committee with 16 sponsors.

New York

2005 – Future Voters of America and Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), introduced a bill to in the New York City Council to lower the city voting age to 16. The bill failed to move forward.

Pennsylvania

2003 – State Senator Jack Warner (D-Allegheny) sponsored a resolution urging Congress to lower the voting age in Pennsylvania to 17. The bill stalled in State Government Committee.

Texas

2001-2003 – State Representative Ron Wilson (D-Houston) proposed lowering the state’s voting age to 14 in state and local elections. The bill was later amended to hold a nonbinding referendum on lowering the voting age to 16. This bill made it out of Committee, but was not voted on. Two years later, Wilson introduced a similar bill lowering the state’s voting age to 16. The bill stalled in the Elections Committee.

Vermont

2015 – Brattleboro resident and activist Kurt Daims proposed to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections. Brattleboro voters rejected the proposal at their annual town meeting.

Washington

2005 – NYRA-Olympia members and three State Representatives proposed a bill to amend the constitution to lower the voting age to 16 for all elections.The bill stalled in the State Government Operations & Accountability Committee.

2011 – NYRA-Seattle members persuaded Washington State Senator Scott White (D-Seattle) to introduce legislation to lower the voting age to 17 for school board elections in the state.The bill stalled in the Early Learning & K-12 Senate Committee.

Wisconsin

2009 – A resolution to lower the voting age to 17 was introduced by five State Representatives. The bill stalled in committee.

Other Countries that have a voting age under 18

Age 16

Argentina
Austria
Bosnia and Herzegovina – if employed
Brazil
Croatia – if employed
Cuba
Dominican Republic – if married
Ecuador
Estonia – local elections only
Germany – seven out of sixteen states have lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections only
Guernsey
Hungary – if married
Indonesia – if married
Isle of Man
Jersey
Malta – local elections only
Nicaragua
Scotland – in non-federal elections only
Serbia – if employed
Slovenia – if employed
Switzerland – in the state of Glarus for regional elections only

Age 17

Indonesia
Israel – local elections only
North Korea
Sudan
Seychelles

Movements to Lower the Voting Age in Other Countries

Australia

2012 – The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition issues a report in support of lowering the voting age to 16.

2015 – Australia’s Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten argues for the lowering of the voting age to 16.

Barbados

2015 – Members of both the Youth Parliament and the regular Parliament call for lowering the voting age to 16.

Cameroon

2016 – The Network for Solidarity, Empowerment & Transformation For All continues to work to lower the voting age there.

Canada

2005 – Liberal Party Member of Parliament Mark Holland introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16 for federal elections. The bill was co-sponsored by members of the three other major political parties. The bill was defeated June 8, 2005.

2014 – The Federation of Young Francophones in New Brunswick launched a campaign in support of a bill introduced by Green Party Leader David Coon to lower the voting age to 16 in the province.

2015 – The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association voted on a resolution to lower the voting age to 16 in the province of Alberta. The proposal failed.

2016 – Canadian Member of Parliament Don Davies introduces a bill to lower the voting age to 16.

2016 – Prince Edward Island allows 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform.

2017 – New Brunswick’s Commission on Electoral Reform recommends a voting age of 16. A similar bill is introduced in the Prince Edward Island legislature.

Germany

2003 – Several German politicians proposed the concept of a “family vote”, which would theoretically eliminate the voting age altogether. Parents would hold and cast the vote their child’s vote until the child turned twelve, after which the child could demand the vote back.

2011 – Some German states lower the voting age to 16.

Greece

2016 – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that the government would present a draft bill to the Greek Parliament that would include provisions for the lowering of the voting age to 17.

Iceland

2017 – A bill is introduced to lower the voting age 16 in municipal elections.

Ireland

2017 – The Irish legislature introduced a bill to lower the voting age to16 in local and European elections.

Italy

2017 – Several political parties support a voting age of 16.

Malta

2016 – President of the National Youth Council advocates for lowering the voting age to 16.

New Zealand

2007 – Green Party MP, Sue Bradford, introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16.

Nepal

2016 – Members of Parliament introduce a bill to lower the voting age to 16. Green Party MP, Sue Bradford, introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16.

Norway

2008 – Several communities in Norway applied to the government to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections.

2011 – Several municipalities were selected to take part in a trial to lower the voting age to 16. Voters in the 16-18 age range had an “especially high turnout”.

2015 – Norway repeated the trial.

Russia

2016 – Two Members of Parliament from the LDPR party introduced legislation to reduce the voting age to 16.

South Africa

1994 – Nelson Mandela proposed a voting age of 14 in recognition of youth action in the fight against Apartheid.

Switzerland

2008 – A parliamentarian from Bern supported a motion to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections.

United Kingdom

2002-2015 – During this time period, at least eight different bills or amendments were debated in Parliament on the subject of lowering the vote. Several organizations, including Votes at 16, the Electoral Reform Society, and the National Union of Students campaigned for lowering the voting age to 16. The movement has the support of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. A bill to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote on a European Union referendum had cross-party support in the House of Lords, but later failed in the House of Commons.

Venezuela

2007 – Voters defeated a referendum that included over 30 proposed changes to Venezuela’s constitution. One of those changes was to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.

 

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