Last updated on: 11/13/2023 | Author: ProCon.org

Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16?

The U.S. voting age has been 18 since 1971. Congress proposed the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that year: “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.” The ratification process, which required approval from 38 states, was completed in about three months, the shortest amount of time of any amendment in U.S. history. From the 1990s to the present, elected officials in several U.S. states have made unsuccessful attempts to lower the voting age to 16, and sometimes even younger. Student activism in the wake of the Feb. 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, brought new life to the debate about letting younger people vote in elections. For more on lowering the voting age, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)

CON (no)

Con

Vivek Ramaswamy:

“We’re not a direct democracy. We are a *constitutional republic.* We need to revive civic duty among young Americans. That’s why I’m announcing my support for a constitutional amendment to raise the voting age from 18 to 25, but to still allow 18-year-olds to vote if they either pass the same civics test required of immigrants to become naturalized citizens, or else to perform 6 months of military or first responder service. We must be ambitious. I understand not everyone will like this proposal and that it will take persuasion to convince many of its merits, but I’m ready to take that on.”

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Vivek Ramaswamy, twitter.com, May 11, 2023

Con

Donald Trump:

“The Democrats are getting very ‘strange.’ They now want to change the voting age to 16, abolish the Electoral College, and Increase significantly the number of Supreme Court Justices. Actually, you’ve got to win it at the Ballot Box!”

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Donald Trump, twitter.com, Mar. 20, 2019

Not Clear or Not Found

Joe Biden:

“My first race for the Senate was one of the first elections in which 18-year-olds could vote, and the energy and passion of Delaware’s young people helped propel me to an unlikely victory.

Fifty years later [after the 26th Amendment was ratified] younger voters remain essential to our civic infrastructure. They are not only voting in our elections — including at record rates in 2020 — but winning them. Younger Americans are lending their talent and vision to school boards, city councils, and county commissions; teenagers are serving as State legislators and mayors, and we are the better for it.

Younger voters are not waiting to inherit the future; they are building the future themselves. Young Americans have been on the front lines in the fight to defend the right to vote and expand access to the ballot box for all eligible voters. Their civic engagement extends beyond voting — with young Americans leading the calls for racial justice, climate action, gun violence prevention, and immigration reform among many other issues.”

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White House, “A Proclamation on the 50th Anniversary of the 26th Amendment,” whitehouse.gov, June 30, 2021

Doug Burgum:

No position as of Sep. 8, 2023.

Chris Christie:

Editors’ Note: Christie vetoed a 2015 bill that would have allowed 17-year-olds in New Jersey to vote in primary elections as long as they turned 18 in time for the general election.

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Source for Editors’ Note: Brent Johnson, “Letting 17-Year-Olds Vote in N.J. Primary Elections Is Getting a New Push. Christie Once Vetoed It.,” nj.com, May. 12, 2023

Ron DeSantis:

No position as of Sep. 8, 2023.

Nikki Haley:

No position as of Sep. 8, 2023.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

No position as of Sep. 8, 2023.