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Lowering the Voting Age in Portland / Multnomah County

I'm beginning to craft a campaign to lower the voting age in Portland or Multnomah County. Thoughts?
Here's what I'm thinking:

-Lower the voting age to 15. Arguments for this age include: many 15 year olds have part-time jobs, pay income tax, can be tried as adults for violent crimes, etc.

-Draft a resolution and submit it to either City Council or the Board of County Commissioners (BCC). I think both have their benefits. The BCC is generally more supportive of youth causes, but there might be some outcry from East County. Portland is geographically smaller, which would make organizing easier. Maybe shoot for both jurisdictions? I imagine one would adopt the resolution shortly after the other, anyways...

-It'd be advantageous to time this right before an election. The officials who vote in favor of the resolution could be persuaded by all of those youth votes that'd be freed up... In 2008, two BCCers (Naito and Rojo de Steffey) are up for reelection, as well as two City Commissioners (Adams, Leonard) and Mayor Potter.

-So, 2008 seems like a good target year.

-In the mean time, allies need to be identified and united. Youth, civil rights, and civic groups. Oregon Bus Project, City Club, Leaders Roundtable, Students for Peace and Justice, Portland Youth Alliance, Multnomah Youth Commission, etc. Get some national backing, too: National Youth Rights Association, Arsalyn, Mobilizing America's Youth, etc.


If you're interested in getting involved with this effort, email me!

i hope it happens 09.Jul.2006 03:55


I don't know much about the logistics of whether this could happen (is there any constitutional law that might limit county law in this sort of thing?)

if it's viable, I wish you all the best. It's about time younger people had an equal voice and the world will be better for it. It's more relevant now as your generation are watching your inheritance (the world) being burnt by the older generations. You kids don't have time to wait until you're older to change things.

I'm 28 and I'm with you all the way.
I also think this campaign is valuable in itself and will change the way people think.

please succeed.

RealDemocracy is.... 09.Jul.2006 05:01

Ecotopian Yeti

a RealDemocracy is all inclusive .. not exclusive based on race, gender, age, wealth, class, caste, religious affiliation, family association, abilities and all the other things we, humans, use to divide and exclused ourselves from a healthy dynamic dialogue.

RealDemocracy is.... an all-inclusive continuous dynamic dialogue between the people, all the people!, and the institutions that they have installed and that have an impact on the their present, future and past.

RealDemocracy is ...empowerment of all the people without limitations.

Democracy is not voting nor does it end at the ballot box. Voting and ballot boxes are tools used in many democratic processes. Democracy is the continuous dynamic dialogue between the people, all the people!, and the institutions that they have installed and that have an impact on the their present, future and past. Democracy is not a popularity contest. Democracy is not a win or lose game. Democracy is not majority rule for that is mob rule even if it is done systematically with willingness and obedience from the minority. Democracy is consent by all. Democracy is an on-going process. Democracy is fluid and its dialogue is continuously changing to the needs of the people. A true democracy must empower all the people with equal voice, equal weight and equal merit for each individual. The needs and voice of the individual holds a value that must always be addressed even at the cost of the majority.

The claim that younger people are influenced by parents is as much valid as saying those who are political party members are influenced by political agenda of the wealthy or charasmatic elite.

Let the youth vote, its their world to inherit 09.Jul.2006 09:48

vote early, vote often

I have been thinking this exact idea recently.

With military recruiters preying on younger Americans and non-citizens it seems only fair they should get a say in who their "Commander and Thief" will be.

How many of those 15-17 would actually take the opportunity to vote? Many young folks are as cynical as the over 18s who stay home on election day. I teach public school and even see kids as young as eleven who just don't give a damn.

Perhaps recognizing young folks' stake in what is going on locally, nationally and globally and including them in the electoral process would combat some of this youthful cynicism?

voting rights 09.Jul.2006 15:44

karl roenfanz ( rosey ) k_rosey48@hotmail.com

i think all rights sould be tied in with minimum military age! that includes voting and drinking ! why should they have the "right" to die for their country and not the rest? oh, i'm 58 yo and did 11 years in service.

Re: Alexia's Constitutional Law Question 09.Jul.2006 17:16

Shawn shawn.biggers@gmail.com

Yeah, that's a huge question in my mind, too. I've done a little research, and, if my amateur interpretation is correct, ORS 247.009 allows lower voting ages in local jurisdictions:

From ORS 247.009:
"Unless specifically provided otherwise, a person may vote in an election of a political subdivision of this state only if the person is an elector registered in the political subdivision."

It's the "unless provided otherwise" part that stands out to me... Could that mean that local governments are allowed to stray from the elector (18+ and a citizen) requirement?

interesting 09.Jul.2006 21:16


What arguments against this do you anticipate and why? Why not allow a 1st grader to vote? Why draw the line at 18? Should a test be required in which a person demonstrates some minimum level of understanding of the issues? Should the mentally handicapped be allowed to vote? What about Republicans? ;)

re: interesting 10.Jul.2006 04:36

Ecotopian Yeti

this is why I say:

RealDemocracy is.... an all-inclusive continuous dynamic dialogue between the people, all the people!, and the institutions that they have installed and that have an impact on the their present, future and past.

we must remember Democracy is not voting nor does it end at the ballot box .... those are tools in some democratic processes, but in themselves are not "democracy".

RealDemocracy can not exclude from this dialogue even those labeled as "criminals", even republicans or fascists as well as those that embrace hate ideologies, and especially those often not heard, listened to or those viewed as not having the ability to "think for themselves". All opinions no matter how culturally marginalized MUST be part of the democratic dialogue to make those first and continuous steps to birthing and maintaining a RealDemocracy. This also begins with education and questioning all that we have been "brainwashed" with in our social structures and mass media imagery.

voting 10.Jul.2006 08:41

gawan gawan.greenman@gmail.com

Well eye send a good word to the efforts of change in these trying times.....my comment would be that we are not in a democracy, so do not fool yourself. Participating in a fallacy only means you believe in the illusion that is before some eyes. What this one has learned to do, as this individual has becomes seasoned, is to listen with the eyes and see with the ears. Whatthe offering here is the truth hear and that is; it's criminal what is happening in these divided states, and would say call a "spade a spade" and listen to your calling. You feel that something needs to be done and you are doing something but no need to follow in unworthy traditions such as a voting system that is based on an illiterate society(electorial voting system), and besides there are people such as this media channel that are trying to shift the paradigm through awareness and putting into the hands of the humans of this great planet earth. Keep up with your beautiful ideas(and bow my head to you) and put them into places that you know they will succeed and that is not saying that you could not make this happen but ask yourself is voting really changing anything right now in your field of vision.

Peace Gawan.

agree we are not in a real democracy 10.Jul.2006 17:41

Ecotopian Yeti

of course we will have those who will say "we are in a democratic republic"... my response is bullshit.. we are ina corporate republic...

but this idea of including younger potential voters can cause several positive things .. first is ovbiously dialogue and discussion as it is begining in this thread.. second is to ask the question of what the Hell is a democracy if it does not include all... should we call it a selected democracy or the old "founding father's" "democracy" should be called an "over the legal age white male property owning acracy".. third is the discussion of inclusion and empowerment.

Would like to add also to this that we must start talking of democratization of the workplace... horizontalism in our daily means of production as opposed to the hierarchal model we so unwittingly accept as well as horizonalism or empowerment of the social structures from the smallest family unity (two or more entities) to the educational and other social structures. I believe we need a socio-ecological revolution that will radically reshape our beings from how we see ourselves to our relationships with everything... we need an Evergreen Revolution.

Voting Rights isn't a catch all solution, but... 10.Jul.2006 18:09


...it's a step in the equal rights of young people. Now we just have to expand the democratic rights of ALL people, and then it'll mean more.

when is it happening.... 11.Jul.2006 00:36

Gawan gawan.greenman@gmail.com

When can we see it happening when it is happening or maybe when someone writes about it....it is what it is. Revolution is a cirlce, how about an involution. Eye see this thing(evergreen revolution) you are writing about manifesting around my spirit here and everywhere i choose to be. It could be said in a simple metaphor "A human being without foresight is like a fish out of water." oh yeah back to the young man's struggle of being heard, you are wise person and have foresight keep on brining it to focus youngblood and we shall follow.

peace Gawan

what is really needed... 11.Jul.2006 02:47

Ecotopian Yeti

If we define democracy (what I call RealDemocracy to separate it from the illusion of democracy in the US) as an all inclusive dialogue that empowers all particapants and concerned alike then it begins obviously on the local level (at the home, the neighborhood, the district, the ecoregion, the bioregion and upwards). I believe the FreeSkools (free schools) would be the perfect champions or vehicles for educating and empowering all people on communication skills (active listening and understanding communication styles), community building and concensus democracy. I would also suggest that those interested contact the FreeSkools to propose classes or workshops on democratic dialogue, community building and concensus building.... I know they would embrace this it only takes you the particapant to make it so. I also believe the idea of the nation-state is one of the biggest hurdles to RealDemocracy and that we need to start breaking down human made barriers with more holistic approaches to our being (as both individuals and members in multiple communities). But if you wish to start RealDemocratization of our existences then go down to the neighborhood cafe or pub, bookstore, coffee shop or any local community event today or tomight and start having conversations about it. "Be the Evergreen Revolution" "RealDemocracy starts with us" Cascadians! The fredoms we see with the internet communities are being plotted against right now so while you have this chance build a local democratic community now in your own area.


Emancipation 13.Jul.2006 22:43

Sal sal@electrobotanica.org

Without enforcing an emancipation requirement to vote, all you're doing is giving breeders more voice in elections. Most culturally conservative populations like Mormons and Catholics also raise large families. You would be empowering the very people who disdain democracy and want the government to intrude into your personal affairs.

Vet all intentions, especially the "good" ones.

26th Amendement 14.Jul.2006 19:33



The voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 in 1970 by the Voting Rights Act. The 26th Amendement, passed in 1971, put it into the Constitution.

The 26th Amendment doesn't prohibit younger people from voting 22.Jul.2006 11:22


It simply says that 18 year olds have the right to vote and they cannot be denied the vote based on their age.

Younger Voters vote more 22.Feb.2007 13:25

Christina skyscraper_skater@yahoo.com

I think the voting age should be lowered, and as iwas reading through these comments one person said that lowering the age would be pointless because we wouldn't vote anyway. But, although I don't have the statistics right now, it is true that the most active age group who voted last election was the 18-21 year olds. So why wouldn't we expect the 15-17 year olds to be as active in their democracy? We have alot to say! Give us a voice!!