Teen Suffrage: Exploring Proposals to Lower the Voting Age to 16

Sam Barrett, Erick Berrelleza, Francesca Chicoine, Mackenzie Mitchell, and Brian Phan

Directed by Dr. Alice Gates

In 2019, Oregon State Senator Shemia Fagan introduced Senate Bill 838, a proposal to lower the voting age in state and local elections from 18 to 16. That same year, U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced legislation that would require states to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year olds in federal elections. These attempts to enfranchise younger voters form part of a larger campaign led by vote16usa, an organization that sees lowering the voting age as a step to revitalize our democracy and strengthen civic engagement. 

In this project, we explore the debate surrounding proposals to lower the voting age. We examined the history of age-related restrictions and consider the different arguments for expanding voting rights (or maintaining the status quo). We interviewed different kinds of activists, leaders, and academics to understand the context for many of these arguments. With these interviews, we worked on putting together a podcast with a variety of episodes on what we have learned featuring the interviewees. We want to understand what people think about the issue and why they think that way, which is why we created a website and podcast. Our goal is to understand the issue in more depth, and promote informed and authentic dialogue.

Teen Suffrage Podcast: Episode 1