This Article, prepared for an American University Law Review

symposium, explores what the United States can learn from Scotland's experience

in lowering the voting age to sixteen. The minimum voting age in American

elections seems firmly entrenched at eighteen, based in part on the Twenty-Sixth

Amendment, which prohibits states from denying the right to vote to anyone aged

eighteen or older. Yet the conversation about lowering the voting age to sixteen,

at least for local elections, has gained steam in recent years. The debate in

America, however, is nascent compared to the progress in Scotland, which

lowered the voting age to sixteen for its Independence Referendum in 2014 and

for all Scottish elections in 2015. Using original research from interviews I

conducted in Scotland, this Article offers three main takeaways for American

jurisdictions considering this reform: the Scottish experience in lowering the

voting age has been mostly successful because advocates (1) went into schools to

register students to vote and encourage them to participate; (2) offered

meaningful civics education, though that instruction was somewhat uneven

across the country; and (3) created a bipartisan coalition of policymakers who

supported the change. As the debate on the voting age in the United States

expands, advocates should draw upon these lessons from Scotland.

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Notes/Citation Information

Joshua A. Douglas, The Loch Ness Monster, Haggis, and a Lower Voting Age: What America Can Learn from Scotland, 69 Am. U. L. Rev. 1433 (2020).

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Election Law Commons


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