Following the increase of activism from middle and high school students across the country, the “Sweet Sixteen” voting reform introduced by Democrats in the Michigan Legislature could change the shape of the state’s political landscape. House Bill 6183 and Senate Bill 1064, which were both introduced June 12, seek to change the legal voting age in Michigan from 18 to 16. The bills come after the unexpected stream of activism from students following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and teachers were killed in the shooting. “A diverse coalition of students have set politics aside in order to bring about positive change in our political system,” said the Senate Bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Knezek, D-Dearborn Heights. “Young people identify the issues they want to see changed, but they don’t get the chance to vote to see that change happen.”
The sponsor of the House Bill, Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, noted that 16-year-olds are allowed to drive and pay taxes, but are deemed by many to not be old enough to fully understand political change. “These kids work hard, they’re mature enough to decide how their hard-earned tax dollars are spent,” Rabhi said. “Otherwise, it’s taxation without representation.”
Faith Keating, a student at Troy High School, agrees for the most part with the legislators, but she has her doubts.