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Building a new generation of "liberal" voters

CA State Senator John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, wants to give partial votes to those 14 years old and up:

Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, proposed the idea alongside three other lawmakers, saying the Internet, cellular phones, multichannel television and a diverse society makes today's teens better informed than generations of their predecessors.

Coming on the heels of an expected record low turnout among adults in the March 2 election, Vasconcellos would give 16-year-olds a half vote and 14-year-old a quarter vote in state elections beginning in 2006.

The idea, formally called "Training Wheels for Citizenship," first requires two-thirds approval by the Legislature to appear on this November's ballot...

A Republican colleague called it "the nuttiest idea I've ever heard."

Said Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, "There's a reason why 14-year-olds and 16-year-olds don't vote. They are not adults. They are not mature enough. They are easily deceived by political charlatans."

Student supporters said the idea could give them a say in issues such as education funding and bring new voices to a California electorate now largely dominated by older Caucasians.

In other words, it's a partisan and racial power grab. I can already see the stories about teachers telling their students how to vote being swept under the rug.

Lest you think Vasconcellos is just a nut, consider this exchange:

"... [Mexico and/or Mexican-American politicians] said publicly that they are going to use immigration to control the Southwest, retake the Southwest, and eventually, take over the entire U.S...."

Interruption by State Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-San Jose: "Since we stole it from them, why do you say it's unfair to steal it back from us?"

Yeh Ling-Ling: "I'm sorry?"

Vasconcellos: "We stole it from them in the first place."

Yeh Ling-Ling: "Exactly what do you want to have happen?"

Vasconcellos: "I found your testimony (shaking his head, putting his glasses down) … I don't want to debate you."

Yeh Ling-Ling: (with a questioning look) "Exactly?"

Vasconcellos: "I don't want to debate you. I've listened to what you've had to say, period."

UPDATE: I looked at Vasconcellos' recent legislation, and I found two items dealing with "Voting Age." The first would change

"A person entitled to register to vote shall be a United States citizen"

into

"A person authorized to register to vote shall be a United States citizen"

The second would change

"Every person who qualifies under Section 2 of Article
II of the California Constitution... may vote at any election held
within the territory within which he or she resides..."

into

"Every person who qualifies under Section 2 of Article
II of the California Constitution... may vote at any election held
within the territory within which that person resides..."

These appear to be minor changes, but they might be stepping stones on the way to the Vasconcellos dream of a Kid's Army. Maybe the "authorized" change has to do with his bill authorizing child votes rather than them being entitled via federal law.

UPDATE 2: File this under "What AP isn't telling you." It turns out one of the teenagers mentioned in the article, Robert Reynolds, is the local chapter leader of National Youth Rights Association. From this:

A group of about six Berkeley teenagers were awake at 7 a.m. yesterday-and happy about it.
Carrying signs that read, "No taxation without representation, Where's my ballot?!?!" and "Got ballots? I need them," the teens protested outside a North Berkeley polling booth yesterday, to lower the minimum voting age to 16, while passing drivers honked and waved.

"We never had voting rights before and we've never been taken seriously. I feel like a kid," said 17-year-old Berkeley High student Robert Reynolds, the local chapter leader of National Youth Rights Association.

Reynolds said many teenagers are just as informed as 18-year-olds, and allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote would also increase the diminishing voter turnout.

Their efforts are part of an international movement to lower the voting age, Reynolds said-Germany, the United Kingdom and five other countries are also considering allowing 16-year-olds to vote...

A UC Berkeley student even joined the protest.

"Anyone who is denied a right to vote based on their age is age discrimination," said junior Kalin McKenna.

From Robert Reynolds' talking points to John Vasconcellos' pen.

UPDATE 3: The wacky legislation is now available. Details here.

California · Mon, 03/08/2004 - 19:22 · Importance: 1