While some young people are getting involved in the 2016 presidential race, they are rarely active in their state or local government. Yet, Indiana high school student Megan Stoner defies the norm; the 18-year-old is currently working with state legislators to pass a bill she helped author.
In an effort to change Indiana law, Stoner has proposed legislation that would lower the age requirement to run for office. The current laws in Indiana require residents to be at least 25 to run for state senate and 21 to run for the House of Representatives. Stoner’s bill would lower the senate age requirement to 21 and the House age requirement to 18.
Passing this law would require amending the state constitution, which means that it must go through two General Assembly sessions and then be placed on a ballot for the people to vote on.
Stoner said that the current age requirements don’t make any sense.
“We found that the age requirements were made when a person still had to be 21 to vote,” she said.
Stoner stressed that although her proposed law would lower the age requirements to run for office, younger people wouldn't automatically be elected.
“We are letting the voters have the say,” she said.
New Hampshire and Maine have both recently lowered their age requirements, according to the Associated Press. Georgia state lawmakers also introduced a similar bill in 2015.
Indiana Rep. Greg Beumer, R-Modoc, introduced Stoner's bill during last year's legislative session. Because a constitutional amendment is required, the bill is still in the beginning stages of the process, however, the two are confident that they can get the legislation passed in the first session of 2017.
In case there are other young people who are looking to change the laws in their states, Stoner offered some helpful advice on how to go about doing so.
“Get involved in the political process,” she said. “Write to your local legislators. Do everything you can to tell the elected officials how you feel about the laws,” and don’t “be scared of what others might think. Do what you’re passionate about.”
“I’ve had a fantastic response, and from all different ages,” she continued. “People believe that young people should have a voice in the political system.”