Ald. Khalif Rainey
Press Release

Sup. Rainey Says Measure to Allow 16-Year-Old Vote on School Board Elections Would Increase Participation in Electoral System

County Board Passes Measure That Also Calls for Lowering Age for Registering to Vote

By - Mar 26th, 2015 03:24 pm

Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey said his measure calling on the Wisconsin Legislature to amend state law to allow those who are 16-years-old or older to vote in school board elections would help increase voter participation among young people “in an age of suppressive voter ID laws.”

Rainey’s resolution passed the County Board by a 12-4 vote on Thursday.

The resolution also requests that the Legislature amend state law to allow 16 and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote. Rainey’s measure states that voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have lower turnout rate, and he added that allowing them to vote and register at a younger age would get young people into the habit of voting.

“At a time when voter ID laws are designed to suppress voter turn-out, I think offering youths a limited chance to vote in school board elections would help increase participation in the system,” Rainey said.

“Young people are directly affected by what happens at the level of the local school board, so they should have a chance at picking who will be elected.”

According to Rainey’s resolution, lowering the voting age enable young adults to form a habit of voting that can continue throughout their lives, and about 20 states allow young people ages 16 and older to pre-register to vote. The resolution states that pre-registration laws in other states have resulted in higher voter participation among young people.

“We need to do everything we can to encourage young people to vote,” Rainey said. “Voting is a sacred right in America, and we should be doing everything we can to enfranchise people, not keep them away from the voting booth. Students should have the right to vote on issues that have a direct effect on them, and school board elections do have that direct effect.

“It’s a basic right to vote in this country. Let’s get young people to exercise that right any way we can.”

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