“I think it makes sense to have 16-year-olds vote in this state, so I look forward to that conversation in the building,” Brown told KATU during a news conference on Wednesday. “And hopefully we get to have that conversation with Oregonians across the state.”
The controversial bill that Brown was referencing would amend the Oregon Constitution and decrease the current voting age from 18 to 16.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic state senator Shemia Fagan, explained to CNN that it would “give young people a chance to participate at the ballot about decisions that affect their homes, their clean air and clean water future, their schools, and as we’ve seen, their very lives.”
But the legislation has its share of opponents, too. Like Republican state senator Herman Baertschiger, Jr., who said in a statement, “People are not legally considered adults in this country until they are 18 years old, and I believe they shouldn’t be able to vote until then either. This is nothing more than an attempt to expand the voter rolls to sway elections.”
Ultimately, however, it isn’t the support of the governor nor other politicians that the bill needs—it’s the support of Oregon voters as the proposal will be decided on during the 2020 election.
If the bill passes, Oregon wouldn’t be the first state to allow 16-year-olds to vote. In some local elections in Maryland, the voting age has been lowered to 16 already. And while a similar proposal to change the federal voting age was shot down in Congress earlier this month, the 26th Amendment (which gives everyone over the age of 18 the right to vote) doesn’t stop states from setting their own lower age limits.