Keith Ellison: Lower the Voting Age to 16
The five-term DFL congressman from Minneapolis calls again for a measure to increase the number of voters in America
On Monday afternoon, a Minnesota Congressman who has been fighting for years to facilitate increased voter turnout, took to Twitter to advocate a policy that would radically change the size of the U.S. electorate, as well alter its partisan makeup.
Gopher State Congressman Keith Ellison floated an idea he has been kicking around for some years: lower the legal age of voting to 16.
Representative Ellison tweeted to his 65K+ followers: “I think the voting age should be lowered to 16. What do you think?”
When challenged by one Twitter user as to why the age should be lowered, the Congressman replied:
“16s understand & discuss civics, drive cars, affected by policy decisions, like college debt, mil conflict, taxes, health care”
Ellison’s tweet was seemingly apropos of nothing, directly following after a tweet about his support of President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran, although earlier in the day he tweeted about meeting with administrators and faculty at Richard R. Green Central Park School in Minneapolis.
However, this is not new territory for Representative Ellison.
The Congressman has previously fought to protect voting rights and expand the electorate such as advocating for a Right to Vote Amendment which would entitle every U.S. citizen the fundamental right to vote in any public election – a response to some states tightening restrictions on voting such as requiring voter identification at the ballot box.
Moreover, this is not the first time Congressman Ellison used Twitter as a platform to advocate for a lower voting age.
Back in January 2012, the Democrat wrote: “I say 16s should have vote. Critics argue everything, but 16s voting. e.g. juvenile court, drinking, credit cards, tea in China.”
To be sure, adding millions more teenagers to the voting rolls would also be a boon to the Democratic Party.
Although young voters do not have a particularly high turn-out rate, they tend to back Democratic candidates and be more supportive of progressive causes.
Lowering the voting age to 16 would expand the nation’s electorate by approximately nine million potential voters, according to estimates calculated from 2010 U.S. Census data.
When once challenged by those who think these children are too young to vote, Ellison tweeted three years ago:
“oh come on! 16-year-olds are pretty sharp. I kicked it w/ bunch of kids yesterday, today. All were very smart, informed.”
Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.
When I was 16, I had a vested interest in politics, knowing if LBJ was re-elected, I would be classified 1A and bound for Asia upon H.S. graduation. Today’s 16 year olds might take an interest, if they recognize that, upon graduation, their job prospects already have been sent to Asia.