(ReliableNews.org) – The 26th Amendment to the US Consitution guarantees that all American citizens 18 years of age or older have the right to vote. While former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy recently proposed raising that age to 25 unless certain provisions were met, New Jersey seems to be going in the other direction. One city council lowered the voting age, allowing minors to make their voices heard.
On January 17, the Newark City Council voted to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in the city’s school board elections. The ordinance was brought by Council President LaMonica McIver, who said the council supports “expanding […] democracy” by allowing the city’s “young people the right to vote.” According to The Daily Wire, the measure passed unanimously. McIver believes that minors have the right to representation because they take on other responsibilities that show maturity. The measure reportedly pointed to driving, paying taxes, contributing to campaigns, and volunteering at the polls as examples.
The move was actually requested by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D), who said he was inspired by the co-founders of Vote16NJ — Anjali Krishnamurti and Yenjay Hu. The pair started the organization to advocate for 16 and 17-year-olds to gain the right to vote in the state. Vote16NJ is comprised of a group of high schoolers and Councilman David Contract of Westfield, who shares their view on the matter.
In his statement, Murphy said he recently signed a bill giving 17-year-olds the right to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 by the time the general election occurs. In encouraging young people to involve themselves in the political process, the NJ leader believes it could help them become “lifelong voters.” The governor also supports same-day voter registration because he believes “nobody should ever be denied access to the ballot box,” just because of some clerical oversight or missed arbitrary deadline.
Reactions to the Move
Councilman Lawrence Crump stated that the youth today should vote because they’re “more mature” and “more advanced” than he was at that age. He thinks adults should support their initiative to vote. Councilman Dupre Kelly indicated it was smart to involve young people in the process, and Councilwoman Louise Scott-Rountree said oftentimes, older people mistakenly dismiss young “wisdom” — a mistake. One person on the council was a bit apprehensive about the move, worried it would begin a slippery slope toward allowing minors to hold office.
While Governor Murphy admitted the move might sound “unconventional,” he said it could also create a positive lifelong habit.
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