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Voting has been low amongst all voters since the 1950’s. Even today for mid-term elections and presidential elections less than 50% of Americans vote. This number slightly rose in 2018, but that change can only be attributed to more awareness around the White House. The number is even lower between 10 and 20 percent less amongst African-American voters.

 

Legislators have proposed an amendment to the Oregon Constitution that would lower the voting age from 18 to 16 throughout the entire state. If the bill passes, voters would decide on the proposal in the 2020 election. After which the proposed change would take effect quickly after. 

State Senator Shemia Fagan a Democrat in Oregon as well as one of the bill's sponsors, announced this change earlier this week on Monday.

"It's time to lower the voting age in Oregon and give young people a chance to participate at the ballot about decisions that affect their homes, their clean air and clean water future, their schools, and as we've seen, their very lives," Fagan said at a press conference in Portland. Senator Fagan used the examples of the Parkland High School Florida students that challenged law makers after that horrific shooting last February at the school where 17 innocent people were killed.

Samantha Gladu, the executive director of the youth grassroots organization Bus Project, said 16- and 17-year-olds are engaged and smart enough to cast informed votes.

"They know that we have to take action urgently on issues like education funding, health care, climate justice and gun violence in particular," Gladu said. "I'm also hearing a lot from 16- and 17-year-olds about the need for criminal justice reform and the need to stop mass incarceration.” 

Those who are 16 and 17 being allowed to vote can create life-long voters for the future. However, Oregon Republican Senate leader Herman Baertschiger Jr.

opposes the proposal and believes youth are not well enough informed.

Other places have messed with the idea of lowering the voting age including San Francisco in California but only 48% of voters approved the idea, and in Maryland the voting age is already 16 years old for local elections. Austria, Brazil, and Argentina all have 16 as the voting age.

The last big change in the voting age happened under Franklin D. Roosevelt at the end of WWII when he allowed those at the age of 18 to vote. When he changed the voting age from 21 to 18. If you are old enough to pay taxes and be a productive member of society you are old enough to vote.