D.C. Council on Tuesday indefinitely tabled legislation that would lower the city’s voting age for local and national elections to 16.
The amendment appeared to have the support of a majority of the council, as well as Mayor Muriel Bowser and Attorney General Karl Racine. However, in a surprising move, Councilman Trayon White (D-Ward 8), an initial backer of the bill, joined Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and others in a 7-6 decision to table the legislation with no debate — and no other hearings on the matter currently scheduled.
“Today’s outcome was definitely a disappointment,” said Monae Scott, 17, a student at The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C. “But we’ve come too far to give up now because we are passionate about the getting the right to vote for youth in D.C., and we won’t stop our advocacy.”
Although some jurisdictions around the country allow those 16 and older to vote in local elections, D.C. would be the first to allow 16-year-olds to vote in national elections if the bill passes. However, a spokesperson for Councilman Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who introduced the legislation, said it is unlikely to move forward during this year’s council session.
The efforts to grant voting rights to those 16 and older have been led by Vote16DC, a local arm of Generation Citizen, a national nonprofit that focuses on improving youth civic engagement.
“D.C. has a long-standing commitment to fighting for full voting rights for our residents, and today’s vote could have brought us one step closer to making that a reality for 16- and 17-year-olds in D.C.,” said Dave Chandrasekaran, Vote16DC campaign manager. “But we understand that voter enfranchisement often faces obstacles, and we’ll carry on.”