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Expanding the Electorate by Giving Youth a Voice in their Future

WHEREAS, in 2012, the NAACP passed a resolution (NAACP Calls for the Expansion of the Right to Vote to All Eligible Citizens and for Affirmative Steps to. Increase the Integrity of Elections) that calls on "units to engage in advocacy efforts to advance progressive solutions that protect and expand voting rights ...and any proposed legislation that expands the electorate; and

WHEREAS, the youth who are politically engaged are much more likely to remain so over time, and classrooms with "mock elections" have shown to increase teens political knowledge and engagement, and research shows a "trickle up" effect, when the child votes, the parent is more likely to do so also; and

WHEREAS, ages 18-24 are a poor time to start voting owing to the fact that most teens are leaving for college and starting jobs, and this demographic moves more frequently than others; and

WHEREAS, sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds can vote in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Estonia in local elections, parts of Germany, Guernsey, Malta, Nicaragua, Scotland, Takoma Park US, Hyattsville US, Greenbelt US, and Berkeley US in schoolboard elections; and

WHEREAS, in 2016, Black voter turnout decreased for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election and among Millennials in 2016, Blacks were the only racial or ethnic group whose turnout decreased from 2012 rates, based on Census bureau data; and

WHEREAS, sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds will be impacted as much or more than older voters in many areas that are central to our politics and NAACP game changers (including, but not limited to gun violence and global climate change) but who are not given a voice in the political process;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports granting the right to vote to sixteen­ and seventeen-year-olds.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work to support legislation and ballot initiatives granting sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds the right to vote.