LANSING – The national wave of youth activism sparked by the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. is leading Michigan lawmakers to push for lowering the voting age to 16.
State Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights) and State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) introduced the mirror bills in the House and Senate on June 12, but making them the law would require changes to both the federal and state Constitutions.
As the Detroit Free Press reported, a change in the state Constitution would require a majority in the House and the Senate, which is unlikely in the Republican-controlled legislature, and a vote of the people. To change the U.S. Constitution, Congress would have to pass the change and send it back to the states for ratification. An amendment becomes part of the Constitution if it is ratified by three-fours (38 out of 50) of the states. The last time the voting age was changed — from 21 to 18 — was 1971.
“We allow 16-year-olds to go off and get jobs and pay taxes, but we fail to allow them to exercise their voice come election time,” Knezek said. “Young people are setting aside their differences and identifying issues they think need to change. And they can do everything to get that change except vote.”
“If a 16-year-old can get behind the wheel and pay taxes from their paycheck, they are also mature enough to decide how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent,” Rabhi said in a release. “Otherwise, it’s taxation without representation.”
The shooting in Parkland, which left 17 students and teachers dead, encouraged survivors to become lead activists and launched mass walkouts at schools across the nation, calling for tighter gun control.