Amendment V: Lowering age limits for state reps, senators |

Amendment V: Lowering age limits for state reps, senators

Read the series

Amendment 74 (Local government compensation for property “takings”)

Proposition 112 (Oil and gas facility setbacks)

Propositions 109 and 110 (State highways and transportation funding)

Amendments Y&Z (Legislative and Congressional redistricting)

Amendment A (Prison slave labor) and Amendment X (Industrial hemp)

Amendment 73 (State education funding)

Proposition 111 (Payday lender rules)

Amendment 75 (Campaign finance)

Editor’s note: The Glenwood Springs Post Independent, in conjunction with other Colorado Mountain News Media publications, is running a series of stories on the statewide measures that are on the Nov. 6 ballot. These stories are intended to help explain the ballot questions. Ballots are being mailed out this week.

A typical 21-year-old in Colorado can buy alcohol, book a hotel room or gamble at a casino, but they can’t run for the state Legislature. A measure on this year’s ballot is looking to change that.

Amendment V would lower the required age to serve as a representative or senator from 25 to 21.

On a bipartisan level, two senators, Vicki Marble and Michael Merrifield, and two representatives, Kevin Van Winkle and Jovan Melton, sponsored the measure in the Legislature. It was approved for the ballot in May.

Proponents of the measure argue that a 21-year-old is legally an adult and excluding 21- to 24-year-olds serves no purpose since voters can determine for themselves whether a candidate is mature, able and competent enough to serve.

“I can remember being 21 and frustrated and thinking, ‘I can do a better job,’ or, ‘I should have the right to have my opinion be heard,’” Merrifield told The Denver Post last year. “Right now, we have a pretty fired-up segment of the population, and we’ve given them all the responsibilities of an adult. But we have not given them this particular right to represent themselves.”

Colorado’s current age requirement, along with those of Arizona and Utah, is the highest minimum age to serve in the house in the country. Three states have no minimum age requirement, and 10 states have a minimum age requirement of 18 years.

Proponents also argue lowering the age would encourage civic engagement from younger residents of the state.

However, opponents feel that the current age requirement strikes a balance between youth and experience. They argue that younger candidates may lack the expertise and maturity to be effective legislators.

Currently, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the average age of Colorado legislators in 2015 was 55 years.

In 2008, a similar measure to lower the required age to 21, Referendum L, was on the Colorado ballot and failed with 53.5 percent of voters against the measure.

Amendment V needs 55 percent of the vote to pass.

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