On Tuesday, speaking in Battery Park in New York City, Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang stated that he wanted to give non-citizens the right to vote.
Yang, who was joined by City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, had already stated that the first thing he wanted to do was give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote, when he stated:
The second thing we should do is expand the franchise to non-citizens, lawful permanent residents. Now we’re here in part inside the Statue of Liberty because New York City is a city of immigrants. I myself am the son of immigrants. … And immigrants form the core of so many of our neighborhoods and communities. There are approximately 622,000 lawful permanent residents, you probably think of them as green card holders, who are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Their kids go to our schools. They supply many of the jobs that we rely upon. They should have a say in the future of their city, too.
We can enable green card holders, lawful permanent residents, to be able to vote. And I’m so thrilled that Carlos and Margaret Chin, who is another city council member who’s endorsed me, have put forward “Our City, Our Vote” bill that would enable this to happen. … We should enable lawful permanent residents … to vote. This is their city, too. So young people, non-citizens, we have to invest in the mechanics of our democracy at a higher level.
Prior to his remarks about enabling non-citizens to vote, Yang stated:
Now how can we continue to invest in our democracy to make it better here in New York City. I think we should enable young people to vote starting at age 16. Now let’s think about why this might be. Right now, older voters vote at very, very high levels, which is great, but then policy tends to skew in that direction because politicians follow the votes. And so many young people don’t feel like their voices are being heard and that has a self-reinforcing dynamic where if a young person thinks, “Oh, my voice won’t be heard,” then they get discouraged and they aren’t as activated in our democracy.
Now if you were to have 16 year olds vote, what would that do? That would transform every high school in New York City in a hotbed of democracy because instead of being hypothetical, all of a sudden every junior and senior would actually be able to vote in city elections. Instead of being hypothetical, their teachers could talk to them about the real issues, and what the candidates stand for, and have them vote then and there. And studies have shown that the earlier you are the first time you cast a vote, the more likely you are to become a voter throughout your lifetime. So if we invest in young people at age 16 and 17, then we are going to be strengthening our democracy in a very, very significant way.
The University of Rochester Medical Center has noted of the development of teens’ brains:
The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.
In teens’ brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing—and not always at the same rate. That’s why when teens have overwhelming emotional input, they can’t explain later what they were thinking. They weren’t thinking as much as they were feeling.
NY1 pointed out that “Yang himself has never voted in a New York City election, despite having lived here for 25 years. He missed some federal and state elections as well.”