Some States Mull Lower Voting Age

Ten states are looking at lowering the voting age from 18, reports CBS Marketwatch Correspondent Trish Regan.

Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair is pushing to extend voting rights to 16-year-olds, she adds.

In California, the voting age may be shaved to 14 under a bill being considered by the state senate, Regan says. But she explains that how much a vote counts would depend on the voter's age.

Under the plan, 14- and 15-year-olds would get a quarter of a vote, and 16 and 17-year-olds would get half.

"It's like training wheels or an apprenticeship- like driving!" says Calif. State Sen. John Vasconcellos. "Practice driving, you get a permit license, certain rules. You don't get a full fledged but you get on the path and experience is always the best teacher."

But critics say that giving teens a portion of the vote threatens the democratic process. "This cheapens (the vote)," charges Art Croney of a group called Responsible Citizens. "It says, 'Oh, it's not that important, school kids can vote event though they have no life experience."

However, points out Regan, students argue it's not life experience that matters.

"There are 16-year-olds who watch the news and read The New York Times daily, so why should they be excluded?" asks Simon Trumbell of Berkeley High School.

Classmate Madeline Kovacs asserts, "The more young people you can get voting, who are well-informed, the better."

California elections officials predict giving teens a portion of the vote would be a logistical nightmare, Regan says.

"The percentages, of them, half here, half there ... to make it work, make it all come out, is a big undertaking."

And though Gov. Schwarzenegger trusts teenagers to make smart choices at the box office, he's not yet ready to take a chance on them at the polls: "I like it the way it is right now - the age of 18 on," he says.

Regan adds that observers say the chances of California passing a lower voting age are slim because - most of the people supporting it - are still too young to vote.
  • Brian Dakss

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