Today the House Education Committee in the Delaware General Assembly voted to table HB 96, a bill that would change the minimum voting age to 16 for school board elections.
“While this is not the outcome I’d hoped for, I’m grateful that so many experts, advocates, and everyday citizens showed up today to support this legislation,” said Claire Snyder-Hall, executive director of Common Cause Delaware. “We had a great discussion, and hopefully we will be able to revive this bill moving forward. It really is a bold new idea and it would be great for the First State to be the first state to enact it.”
“It’s disappointing that the Assembly chose not to prioritize the voices of young people this session,” said Alyssa Canty, director of youth programs at Common Cause. “But we’re confident that this effort to expand civic engagement will prevail in the long run, and we look forward to supporting this measure again in the future.”
HB 96 would build on currently existing Delaware law. The First State already allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and 17-year-olds are permitted to vote in primaries if they will turn 18 by the date of the general election.
Six jurisdictions in the United States have already lowered the voting age to 16 for some or all elections — yielding increases in voter turnout, with no discernable negative consequences. Berkeley and Oakland, California have lowered the voting age for their school board elections. Several towns in Maryland have also lowered the voting age for all local elections.
Since its founding, Common Cause has led the way for voting rights for all people, and it continues to support legislation that protects and expands the freedom to vote. More information on Common Cause Alliance for Emerging Power is available here.
Testimony in support of this legislation by the Delaware Voting Rights Coalition and Dr. David Redlawsk, James R. Soles Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Delaware, is available here. More information on the benefits of lowering the voting age is available here.
Claire Snyder-Hall is available for interviews on this legislation at email@example.com.