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DC Considers Lowering Voting Age to 16

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By Kenneth White

By the next presidential election in 2020, 16 and 17 year olds could be voting in the Nation’s Capital. Legislation to lower the voting age was introduced by council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) saying he was inspired last month by the March For Our Lives gun control event. Seven of the 13 members are backing the measure.

Washington D.C. would not be the first location to lower the voting age to 16. Two countries (Austria and Scotland) have lowered voting ages and several cities in the USA (Greenbelt, Hyattsville and Takoma Park, Maryland, along with Berkley CA) have done the same. These jurisdictions are cities, not states, but if D.C. passes the legislation, it will be the first time the limit has changed in 40 years (26th Amendment in 1971), and the first time a 16 or 17 year old can vote for a President of the United States.

As the District of Columbia is a special federal district and not a state, the district is only represented by a delegate in the House of Representatives. The lack of voting rights has been an issue since the capital’s founding. However, residents are allowed to vote in national elections.

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