Aug. 20, 2018 By Tara Law
Congresswoman Grace Meng wants to amend the U.S. constitution and lower the American voting age to 16 years old.
Meng has introduced a constitutional amendment in the House of Representatives to change the voting age on federal, state and local levels. The voting age was last lowered in 1971, when the 26th Amendment was ratified and it went from 21 to 18.
A constitutional amendment requires passage by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, as well as ratification by three-fourths of the states’ legislatures.
More than 12,000 constitutional amendments have been proposed in the history of the document, but only 27 have been ratified.
Meng argues that the country’s youth deserve to have their voices heard, and pointed out that many young people have participated in activism in the last year on issues such as gun safety, climate change and health care.
In Meng’s opinion, she said, 16-and 17-year olds are “mature” enough for the responsibility of voting.
“16- and 17-year-olds are legally permitted to work and they pay federal income tax on their earnings,” Meng said. “They are legally permitted to drive motor vehicles, and if they commit crimes they are tried as adults. I think it is only fair to allow them the right to vote as well.”
Meng noted that cities in 13 states have already lowered the voting age for local elections.
Meng’s bill has been referred to the House Judiciary committee.