California lawmakers propose lowering voting age to 14 for state elections

Associated Press via

A proposed amendment to California’s constitution would give 16-year-olds a half-vote and 14-year-olds a quarter-vote in state elections.

State Sen. John Vasconcellos, among four lawmakers to propose the idea on Monday, said the Internet, cellular phones, multichannel television and a diverse society makes today’s teens better informed than their predecessors.

The idea requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature to appear on the November ballot.

“When we gave the vote to those who didn’t own property, then to women, then to persons of all colors, we added to the richness of our democratic dialogue and our own nation’s integrity and its model for the world,” Vasconcellos said, calling it time to further extend the vote.

A Republican colleague said it was “the nuttiest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Said Assemblyman Ray Haynes: “There’s a reason why 14-year-olds and 16-year-olds don’t vote. They are not adults. They are not mature enough. They are easily deceived by political charlatans.”

Student supporters said the idea could give them a say in issues such as education funding and bring new voices to the California electorate.

“If we could vote, politicians would see us as votes, not just kids, and they would take our issues seriously,” said Robert Reynolds, a student at Berkeley High School.