Joint resolution proposes a lower voting age in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis) filed a joint resolution Monday that would lower the state voting age from 18 to 16. 

According to, there are nearly 700,000 high school students in Missouri.

Tom Emmel, an American history and government teacher at Helias High School, said there are some things to consider before deciding if the proposal is a good or bad idea.

"You have to ask yourself, do they first off have the intelligence to understand the issues?" Emmel said. "And then do they have the maturity to understand what's going on? Intelligence, I think probably so, maturity, I'm not sure. It's quite a step to go in that booth and know that what you're doing is going to effect not only your's, but the rest of your city or state or nation."

Emmel teaches a class composed of 16 and 17-year-olds who receive college credit from Lincoln University. 

He said he would trust his students in a voting booth. 

"I think the students that I teach could make a knowledgeable decision, whether they would take the gumption to go out and physically vote, I don't know," Emmel said.

One of his students, Danielle Killion, agreed with him.

"I just feel like taking an advanced class helps you understand more of how it works and who's involved," Killion said.

The bill would only affect state and local elections, not federal ones. 

No other states allow people younger than 18 to vote. 

Emmel said he believes lowering the age limit would change campaign strategies. He said the use of texting and social media help influence the position of 18 to 28-year-old voters. 

The new legislative session starts on January 7. 

Tom Emmel's Advanced Placement American Government students at Helias High School review assignments as the semester comes to a close on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Jefferson City, Missouri. Emmel said the students he teaches would be knowledgeable enough to participate in the next political election if the voting age restrictions were to change. (KOMU/Allison Ladd)

AP American Government teacher Tom Emmel at Helias High School jokes with students as their finals approach on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Jefferson City, Missouri. Emmel has been teaching for 38 years and is completing his fourth year teaching AP American Government. (KOMU/Allison Ladd)

Inside Helias High School in Jefferson City, Missouri, a topic of discussion Monday, Dec. 8,2014 was the proposed legislation to lower state voting age from 18 to 16. Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis) filed a joint resolution to affect only state and local elections. (KOMU/Allison Ladd)