Utah Parents United Opposes HB 422 which allows a School Board to decide if they want 16-17 Year Old Children Voting in School Board Elections.
What problem are they trying to solve? Young voters are not engaged in the democratic process. During the pandemic policies were being put in place that had the greatest impact on their lives and they had no voice.
Is this the best way to solve this problem? NO! If we want younger voters involved in the democratic process it is the responsibility of our local government and parties to engage 18-year-olds through programs and groups like the Young Republican, Democrat, and Libertarian clubs. A college campus is not a politically neutral zone. What a great place to have these types of debates and conversations.
By state law high schools are to remain politically neutral. By involving students in elections we risk jeopardizing that neutral environment. Although school board positions are non-partisan the issues are highly political. High Schools are not appropriate places for potential campaigning. It's hard enough for adults not to vote on name recognition. For most 16 -17 year Olds there is an even greater risk for that to occur.
If kids are going to vote then they need to be legally responsible for their actions. If they're not old enough to be legally responsible for their actions they are not responsible enough to vote.
16 and 17 year-olds have a responsibility to their academics and need to focus on graduating high school.
What we suggest instead: The USBE is currently revising our social studies curriculum and can add more information about the voting process, how we vote, why we vote and encourage high school students to look forward to when they turn 18 and are legally eligible to vote in their first election.
School Boards can create opportunities for students to more fully participate in local school board meetings and share their perspectives. They can offer to run assemblies or create informative material to be passed out at the high schools to educate students on how their voices can be heard.
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