The United States constitution says that "no person... except a natural born
Some people interpret that to mean that an under-35-year-old could not be sworn into office but is not prohibited from running for the position. So, 17-year-old youth rights activist Elijah Manley is running for president, even if the Fort Lauderdale High School junior isn't yet old enough to vote. Manley wants to change that and is going to start by trying to lower the voting age to 15 in Broward County.
“In the past, they had to fight to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 and then again to keep it there,” Manley says. “I’m ready to fight again and lower the voting age to 15.”
An amendment proposed by Manley would lower the voting age to 15 for municipal elections — like for county commission races and
It’s all part of a larger youth rights movement sweeping across the country. Proponents argue that if 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds can drive, go to work, and pay taxes, they can also decide who should represent them in
“People under the age of 18 are showing increasing levels of intelligence and interest in politics. I believe everyone is equal and age should not be a barrier,” Manley says. “This would allow for a higher level of youth turnout and increase voter turnout.”
Last January, after hearing
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“It’s an election year, and I think commissioners want to do something that will leave a lasting impression,” Manley says. “School and education have been very important to commissioners in the past, and these are issues that really affect people under the age of 18.”
Manley identifies as an Independent. In October, he spoke at the Socialist Party USA National Convention. He didn’t receive the party's nomination for president but says he made strides in his fundraising campaign. But minimum age restrictions have already hindered him. Manley says that because he is under 18, he can’t open a bank account with his contributions.
Even if his amendment passes, Manley and his friends will still not be able to vote in the federal election this November. But Manley vows to tour the country, trying to lower the voting age to 15 in municipalities everywhere. Eventually, he hopes it will lead to a national movement to lower the voting age to 15 for federal elections.
“I know that if it passes, it will only lead to more civic participation,” Manley says. “I think everyone wants that.”