WASHINGTON, D.C. April 10, 2018: The National Youth Rights Association applauds Councilmember Charles Allen for introducing the Youth Vote Amendment Act of 2018 today, and calls upon the DC Council to become the first location in the United States to permit 16-year-olds to vote for president.
In 2013 Takoma Park, Md. became the first city in the United States to lower its voting age to 16. It was followed by Hyattsville, Md. in 2015, by Berkeley, Calif. (for school board elections) in 2016, and Greenbelt, Md., earlier this year. All of these cities allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, but Washington, DC would make history as the first to allow youth to vote in federal elections, including president.
When 16 and 17-year-olds went to the polls in Takoma Park their turnout rate was double that of older voters. Other countries where 16-year-olds have voted, such as Austria, Germany and Scotland have also seen higher rates of voter turnout among teen voters.
“Young people all across the nation are speaking up on issues of national importance, yet they are not able to vote,” said Alex Koroknay-Palicz, NYRA spokesperson, “this silences intelligent, passionate Americans who care about their communities and would turnout to vote if they had the chance.”
For many young people it is a matter of justice and equal rights.
“I pay taxes, I can be charged as an adult for a crime, I am affected by policy decisions, I demand a right to vote.” said local 15-year-old NYRA member Jennifer Zhang.
Like the hundreds of thousands of young people marching to make their voices heard, NYRA members will stand up for their right to vote in the District of Columbia.
After speaking to local NYRA activists in 2015, Councilmembers David Grosso and Charles Allen introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16. It never made it out of committee, but NYRA is confident that this year’s bill will make history.
Founded by students in 1998, the National Youth Rights Association is dedicated to defending the freedom, equality, and rights of all young people by challenging age discrimination and prejudice. NYRA has led campaigns to lower the voting age in DC and across the nation for 20 years and its expertise on youth rights has been sought by CNN, Fox News, PBS, the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, and many other newspapers, and media outlets.