DENVER- Some Colorado lawmakers want to give people as young as 16 the right to vote in school district elections.
House Bill 1149 would 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in school board elections, bond measures for school improvements, and elections concerning the state board of education.
“I think having a voice in school board elections and other things that come up within the school would be a good idea to give us a voice,” said Zach Wilson, a 16-year-old junior at Central High School in Grand Junction. “We’re the ones who are in the school every day.”
As a member of student senate, Wilson is excited about the prospect of more high schooler students having their voices heard. So is a District 51 school board member.
“The students in the schools know the conditions of the buildings and know the lack of curriculum materials, how outdated they are,” said Paul Pitton, School District 51 Board Vice President. “By voting, it provides them a better environment to get their education.”
While Wilson and Pitton are open to the idea of more students having their voices heard, they acknowledge 16 and 17-year-olds voting in school district elections would be a big change.
“On the other side you would have a very high expense to have to change their voting system to include 16-year-olds,” said Pitton.
Wilson says he understands not all 16-year-olds may be ready to vote in important school district elections. One example he brings up is the 4A bond measure which would’ve increased property taxes to fund a new Grand Junction High School and make security improvements at other D51 high schools.
“The 4A bond measure that failed, most of the kids who are 16 that would be able to vote, they don’t own properties,” said Wilson. “It’s up in the air for sure for what students would be good to vote for and what not to.”