German State Lowers Voting Age to 16

Teenagers pushing for voting rights, conservatives quake
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2011 3:00 AM CDT
Jens Boehrnsen of the Social Democratic Party poses in front of Bremen's town hall.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Politicians in Bremen are reaching out to a big bloc of new voters: The city-state's 16- and 17-year-old citizens. Bremen has become the first German state to extend state level voting rights to 16-year-old residents, but several more of the other 15 states—mostly those led by center-left parties—are expected to soon follow suit, Der Spiegel reports.

Advocates say letting people vote earlier produces more civic-minded citizens, while opponents argue that younger teens are too immature to vote. Austria is currently the only European country that extends full voting rights to 16-year-olds. Efforts to lower the voting age in the UK and US have flopped, although 19 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they'll be 18 by Election Day.

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