WHY LOWER THE VOTING AGE IN MICHIGAN?
Vote16MI aims to give local governments the autonomy to lower the voting age to 16 in nonpartisan elections (specifically, school board and city council races).
School board and city council decisions affect youth directly; from COVID decisions to potholes on the road, young people deserve a stake in the game.
The way that our bill is drafted ensures that local governments will have the autonomy to lower their voting ages in individualized pieces of legislation.
HOW ARE WE DOING IT?
Vote16MI transcends party lines.
By enabling young people to vote, we strengthen our democracy and give the changemakers of tomorrow the voice they deserve. We work across the aisle to ensure that our tomorrow is brighter than today.
The ascendancy of a generation of informed, active, and engaged young people cannot be ignored. From national campaigns such as March for our Lives to small, organized protests, the young voices of America have demonstrated that their voices are strong enough to be heard.
Aided by social media and web-based news outlets, youth activists have risen to prominence. By fostering a space for political discourse on social media platforms, millions of youth have mobilized for the causes they care for.
As the social landscape of the United States expands to include Generation Z, political institutions must also acclimate.
STRENGTHEN CIVIC EDUCATION.
Students learn best when the material they study in school is relevant to their lives outside the classroom. By inviting young people into the voting booth, we ensure a generation of informed voters.
16- AND 17- YEAR OLDS HAVE A STAKE IN THE GAME.
Youth are affected by local political issues as much as anyone. They work with minimal limits on hours and pay taxes on their income, can drive, and in some cases, are tried in adult courts. There is no better way to make sure that young people's voices are heard when it comes to local policy making than by giving them the right to vote.
MAKE VOTING A HABIT.
Extending voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in MI can go a long way to ensuring that young people become engaged, lifelong voters. Research shows that voting is a habit, and 16 is a better time to establish that habit than 18. Our democracy works best when more people participate, and lowering the voting age is an important step to make sure young people build a habit of engagement that can last a lifetime.
Are 16 Year Olds Mature Enough to Vote?
It is true that research exists showing 16-year-olds’ do not perform as well as older adults in impulse-driven situations in which emotions run high.
However, the decision-making process for voting does not fall into this impulse-driven category, which is known as “hot cognition.”
Rather, voting depends on “cold cognition,” a thought out decision-making process in which 16-year-olds perform just as well as adults.
Is Lowering the Voting Age A Partisan Power Grab?
The effort to lower the voting age transcends party lines. The purpose of the effort is to invigorate our democracy by fostering active and engaged citizens.
A more lively political discourse—in classrooms and in the broader public sphere—can stimulate ideas from across the political spectrum.
More importantly, Vote16MI advocates specifically for voting rights in nonpartisan local elections.
16- and 17- year olds will not have to declare a party affiliation.
Shouldn't the Voting Age Tie to the Age of Adulthood?
It has been proven that voting is habitual: voting in one election increases the chances of voting in another.
Many 18-year-olds, enduring large-scale life changes, are less likely to establish voting habits at 18. Conversely, voters ages 16 and 17 are more supported and are therefore better candidates for initiating sustainable voting habits.
Moreover, sixteen-year-olds can work without any restriction on hours, drive, and in some cases be tried for crimes as adults. The legal age of consent in many states is 16, and the compulsory school attendance age ends at 16 in many states. All legal age limits should be set in accordance to what is best for each individual issue.
Won't 16- and 17- Year Olds Copy Their Parents' Votes?
This claim is reminiscent of arguments made by opponents of women’s suffrage, who feared women would copy their husbands’ votes. The argument is not a legitimate reason to deny someone the right to vote, and, in the case of women’s voting, has been debunked.
Data from the 2014 Scottish independence referendum also suggests this claim is false. A survey conducted prior to the referendum found that over 40 percent of young people had different voting intentions than a parent.
Young people demonstrate and express political beliefs independent from those of their parents.