According to Fox News, a teen-led movement known as "Vote16" recently succeeded in getting Democrats in the Vermont State Legislature to override Republican Gov. Phil Scott after he vetoed a bill that would allow 16-year-olds to vote in municipal elections. As a result, the town of Brattleboro gave them the right to cast their ballots, serve on the select board, and act as representatives at the town's annual meeting.
The group states their case by citing issues like climate change. "Why do young people so fervently demand action on climate change?" proponents of lowering the voting age ask in an op ed. "Because we know we will carry the burden of salvaging our world once the damage is already done."
"For this reason," they continue, "young people deserve the right to vote. Because young people are barred from the democratic process, we are denied the right to influence budget decisions, environmental regulations, and emissions policies, all of which will heavily affect our futures. But despite our disenfranchisement, young people are already highly engaged and motivated and have displayed extraordinary leadership in the face of existential challenges. We’ve taken action by participating in climate marches, writing letters to our representatives, and organizing for change."Vote16 was organized by Generation Citizen, and "aims to support efforts to lower the voting age on the local level, help start new local campaigns, and elevate the issue’s prominence on a national level." The mission of Generation Citizen is to "build an education movement that equips and inspires young people to transform our democracy."
The group is backed by the Bezos Family Foundation, Five Together Foundation, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, New Pluralists, New York City Council, Present Progressive Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. They are also funded by the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, Body Shop Foundation, Einhorn Charitable Trust, Ford Foundation, Mary and Jerome Vascellaro
Meadows Foundation, Tom and Lydia Moran, Wellington Management Foundation. At slightly lower levels, they are backed by Con Edison, Fidelity Investments, Fresh Sound Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Gray Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation, Public Wise, Ray and Dagmar Dolby Fund, Rhode Island Foundation and the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation.
According to Vote16's website, the group is actively advocating for change in Michigan, Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Illinois, Palo Alto, and Oakland, and has managed to get lawmakers to consider legislation in Culver City, CA.
Vote16 has succeeded in lowering the voting age in the Maryland towns of Takoma Park, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, and Mount Rainier, and made significant headway in Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley, California.
The move to lower the voting age has been celebrated by many Democrats, including Vermont Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, who cited her state's aging population.
"The more we can do to bring youth into that process so that they learn the skills and practice the skills of participation and politics with sort of a lowercase 'p'," she argued, "the stronger our communities will be and the more I think folks will feel tied to their communities."
While proponents have argued that because 16-year-olds can work, not allowing them to vote is equivalent to taxation without representation, although experts have warned that it is not the right move.
"It is an extremely unwise push to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote," the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky said in an interview with Fox News. "We don't consider them to have the judgment and maturity to make important decisions, which is why they are not legally adults and can't sign contracts, lease an apartment, buy a car, join the military, drink alcohol, or do the many other things only adults can legally do."
Studies have shown that the part of the brain responsible for decision-making is not fully formed until around 25 years old. Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has suggested that the voting age should be raised to match that.
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