Proposed bill for 16-year-old’s to vote in Virginia
DELMARVA – Could 16-year-olds be allowed to vote?
A proposed bill in Virginia is working to make it happen. “I don’t believe that at 16 or 17 the mind is developed enough so there’s enough life experience or maturity to figure it out, look at the ramifications of voting to reject or pass something on the ballot,” says Delegate Wayne Hartman, a Republican for Maryland District 38C.
Delegate Wayne Hartman, he’s against 16-year-olds voting and worries about what this means for future elections. “Where I think there will be problems pushing something like this to a state level is it not allowed by federal law, so when we have federal elections on the ballot, I think it will really make a complicated process for the local boards of election. To not only have all the ballots that they currently have to have for a local race but then differentiate a minor ballot from someone that’s 18 or older,” says Delegate Hartman.
Delegate Hartman also says adults don’t understand the ballots completely themselves, oftentimes reaching out to him for questions. “I can’t even tell you how many adults which I certainly encourage – who don’t understand the issues and reach out to get more educated as adults some people have concerns or questions about people or questions on the ballot, so 16 or 17-year-olds I could not support the concept,” says the Delegate.
Meanwhile, Dorien Rogers with the NAACP says 16-year-olds should be able to vote. “Our youth within the state of Maryland have demonstrated their resilience and their mindset is clear. They want action behind words, so they’re demonstrating the academic rigor, staying informed and they’re utilizing the information and the education that they’re utilizing to again make our communities a better place,” says Dorien Rogers, the President of the Maryland State Conference Youth and College Division for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Rogers argues other big decisions are allowed to be made at a young age. “How is it that you’re able to enlist in the military at the age of 17 but you still can’t vote? So that’s a paradox, so again I think that emphasizes the need for again the age to be lowered whether it’s 16 or 17,” says Rogers. “I certainly encourage people to get more involved in politics and leadership in anything at an early age but when you’re talking about 16-year-olds voting there’s a lot of complications to it,” says Delegate Hartman.
For more information about the bill, click here.