Arizona Lawmakers Propose Civic Participation Act to Boost Youth Participation in Government

Arizona lawmakers have announced bipartisan legislation that would lower the eligibility age to run for elected office in the state legislature from 25 to 18.

The filing of the Arizona Civic Participation Act comes in the wake of a historic turnout of young voters in the 2022 midterm elections. The legislation aims to boost participation among the young demographic in state politics.

“This election is another step in engaging our state’s youth, which started with the American Civics Act of 2015,” state Rep. Matt Dress (R) said in a statement announcing the legislation.

“Arizona’s young leaders are resilient, having overcome many personal, unprecedented challenges like a global pandemic. I’m honored to push this legislation forward that encourages more young people to participate in the legislative process and involves them more in Arizona policy.”

Other key proponents of the Civic Participation Act include Arizona Rep. Austin Smith (R) and Arizona Rep. Cesar Aguilar (D), two of the youngest members of the state’s partisan caucuses and legislature.

The legislation would lower the eligibility age for any legal citizen to run for elective office in the Arizona House and Senate from 25 to 18.

Arizona ranks among the states with the highest age requirement for legislative office, along with Colorado and Utah.

As of 2019, 43 states require a minimum age of 25 to serve in the state legislature, while 12 states have a set age requirement of 18.

States with no specified age requirement minimum are North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Ohio.

The average age of an Arizona lawmaker is 54, reflecting the highest number of Baby Boomers in the statehouse. However, Arizona’s most extensive voting demographic is Millennials and Generation Zs.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reports that young voter turnout in Arizona is on the rise. It increased by 10 to 26 percent, or 16 points, from 2014 to 2018.

Between 2016 and 2020, the turnout rose by 18 points, from 33 to 51 percent.

“Young Americans aren’t just becoming the largest demographic in the country, but the most involved,” Smith said in a statement.

“As one of the youngest members of this year’s Arizona state legislature, part of my role is to offer different perspective on issues affecting people from my generation. We have many young, emerging state leaders looking to positively impact our communities.”

Smith said the Arizona Civic Participation Act will empower young people to become more meaningfully engaged in the the civic process, “which only helps build a better future for Arizona.”

As a North Valley Young Republican, Nico Delgado proposed the legislation hoping to galvanize youth interest in the legislative process.

In a statement, Delgado said the Arizona Civic Participation Act would encourage young civic leaders to “step forward now.”

“You’re never too young to be a patriot,” Delgado said. “If you’re old enough to serve our country in the military, you should also have the opportunity to elect peers that reflect your views and values. “

Allan Stein

Allan Stein is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Arizona.

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