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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 4, 2019 11:09 AM
From: Senator Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Lowering the Voting Age to 16
In the near future, I will be introducing an amendment to the Constitution of Pennsylvania to lower Pennsylvania’s voting age from eighteen to sixteen. Today’s teenagers are better informed, more engaged, and more connected to America’s political system than ever before. Given that sixteen-year-olds are routinely granted the right to operate a motor vehicle, and that many are taxpayers of this commonwealth, it is only right that they be trusted to choose the leaders who represent them locally as well as in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit states lowering the voting age below eighteen, only requires that states enfranchise those above that age. Several states, including Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have introduced legislation to lower the voting age. Two municipalities in Maryland – Takoma Park and Hyattsville – have succeeded in lowering the voting age to sixteen to participate in municipal elections only. In Takoma Park’s first municipal election following the change (2013), the turnout among sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds was 44% - an impressive number for any demographic in an odd-year election!

When I speak to students and young people in my district, I am often pleasantly surprised at the depth of insight they demonstrate; many are more considerate and poised than most adults I know. We should not make these citizens wait out one or two more election cycles when legislators are making serious decisions which directly impact their lives now.

I hope that you join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation. Questions or comments may be directed to my office at717-787-5970. Thank you.

Introduced as SB289