The Vote 16 Research Network is a community led effort convened by the University of Maryland to learn more about what happens when communities lower the voting age to 16 in the United States. This effort brings together young people directly impacted by the policy, the local government officials who implement it, educators who teach students about politics, and scholars who study these issues to learn and grow together! This will be the first impact analysis of lowering the voting age in the US.
CDCE is helping lead the Vote 16 Research Network by inviting scholars from all over the country to generate original insights from the unique case of Maryland cities' experience lowering the voting age. This project will not only help us evaluate whether lowering the voting age to 16 is "good policy" or not. It also has the potential to yield original theoretical insights in political science about the political socialitzation of young Americans, trust in government, and the ways in which political participation is socially constructed alongside race and ethnicity in the United States. We invite all scholars with an interest in these topics to join us and let us know how this network can be a platform and resources for their research!
- The first ever individual-level analysis of lowering the voting age in the United States! Nearly ten years after Takoma Park first allowed 16 year olds to vote, we are still relying on studies from Scotland and Denmark to approximate the impact of lowering the voting age. The launch of the Vote 16 Research Network is a hugely important step forward to understand the impact of this policy in the highly distinctive US political environment.
- The most robust mixed-method investigation into the mechanisms that enable Vote 16 policies to drive impact! The network plans to pursue a robust survey to complement the quantitative analysis of the voter file data in critically important ways. If the voter file tells us that the policy is having an impact, the surveys can point the way to let us know if that impact is driven by messages in the media, school based mobilization, community / local government activity outside the classroom, or some other factor. Similarly, if the quantitative analysis reveals limited impact, the survey data will help illuminate where implementation is failing and undermining the effect of the policy.
- Make essential contributions to education research and political science through interdisciplinary collaboration! The Vote 16 research Network will also be able to use the experience of MD communities lowering the voting age to reveal original insights about the schools as sites for political mobilization and socialization for students, families, and communities. This randomized research would strengthen an important and underexplored bridge between political science and education research.
- Establishing a groundbreaking community research partnership! All of the new knowledge described above would be made possible by the Vote 16 research network - an extraordinary collaboration between the university, community leaders, young voters, and philanthropy to pursue new knowledge about lowering the voting age together. This collaboration will both produce ongoing knowledge about lowering the voting age and will establish a connection between scholars and community that can expand beyond this particular policy in important and impactful ways.
If you are interested in getting involved with the Vote 16 Research Network, please contact Michael Hanmer at mhanmer [at] umd.edu.