Hawaii lawmakers introduce bill lowering voting age to 16

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Hawaiian lawmakers introduced a bill this week that would lower the voting age from 18 to 16-years-old.

The legislation – drafted with the input of young people – was one of 20 bills introduced by members of Hawaii’s Keiki Caucus, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu. 

If passed, House Bill 449 and Senate Bill 824, would amend Hawaii’s constitution to allow 16-year-olds to vote in state and local elections.

Dyson Chee, an 18-year-old who advocated for the measure, said during a live press conference that one of the first things young people learn about the founding of the U.S.A. is the idea of “no taxation without representation.”

“Yet, those very same 16- and 17-year-olds, who can work drive, work and pay taxes, have no electoral say over the very government officials who use their taxpayer money,” she said.

She pointed to countries like Austria and Scotland which both have a voting age of 16 and have supposedly found the lower voting age “beneficial to the democratic process.”

State Sen. Joy San Buenaventura said the likelihood is the “non-budget bills in a shortened legislative session will likely die” given the budgetary constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, she acknowledged that young people understand they “have a voice and this is only the first of a biennial which means it can be brought up against next year.”

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