Bill Would Lower Voting Age To 16

Published: Jun. 14, 2018 at 6:47 PM EDT
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It's hard enough to get 18-year-olds to vote. Now two state lawmakers want the age lowered to 16. Supporters say they're inspired by the political activism of students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida this year. They want to let 16-year-olds here in Michigan get even more involved.

"I believe that some students 16 and above could really like make a difference," said Davira Pahwa.

"Kids should have a say especially if it's going on in their country. They should have a say," said Nathan Potter.

While some kids are excited about this opportunity, MSU Public Policy Director Matt Grossmann says even if this bill were to pass, it wouldn't change the fact that young people don't vote.

"It would increase the number of potential voters, but we'd likely see the least level of turnout at the lowest end of the scale," said Matt Grossmann.

Students agreed, saying the low turnout trend would only continue 16-year-olds.

"16-year-olds really don't care. I mean they are playing Fortnite and 2k and all that," said Jay Hill.

Some 16-year-olds were very vocal about it.

"I've never wanted to vote and I don't think I would vote," said Niyaz Kochayev.

The last time the voting age was changed was in 1971 at the height of the Vietnam protests.

Grossman says it's possible the Parkland students could have a similar effect.

"Parkland kids obviously are calling members of Congress, if their age cohorts get mobilized around that. I would represent a significant change in political activity," said Grossman.

The chances of this bill passing in the house and senate are slim at best. Even if it did the state and federal constitutions would have to be amended before 16-year-olds could start voting. Neither is likely to happen.