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Your Voice 2016

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Green Party Candidate would consider lowering the voting age to 16

Fusion/Mark Lima

The Green Party presidential ticket might support lowering the voting age to 16 according to their vice-presidential candidate. During Fusion’s Green Party Candidate Forum on Monday, Green Party vice-presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka responded to a question about voting rights by suggesting that he and his running mate, Jill Stein, would be open to lowering the age of enfranchisement in the United States.

“We would do everything we can to try and make access to democracy a reality,” Baraka said, before glancing at his running mate and continuing, “and we would even, I think maybe, consider reducing the age of participation from 18 to 16. Sixteen-year-olds have the ability to think for themselves and should be able to participate.”

Baraka also called voter I.D. laws “modern-day poll taxes,” and promised to systematically repeal such laws as well as reinstate Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court hampered in 2013, limiting the Justice Department’s ability to investigate allegations of voter suppression.

The current minimum age of voter enfranchisement in all U.S. elections is 18. Congress extended voting rights to 18-year-olds in the Voting Rights Act amendment of 1970. Later that year, the Supreme Court decided in Oregon v. Mitchell that the law could only apply to federal elections. Congress responded by ratifying the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”

The Green Party has more than just an ideological incentive to support enfranchising younger voters. Polls show that the Green Party consistently performs better with younger cohorts than older ones. In at least one recent poll the Green party is polling ahead of Donald Trump among voters under the age of 30.