Andreas ’23 took his passion for representative government and turned it into action. His push to get younger teens the ability to vote proved successful when his town council amended its charter allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the Town of Chevy Chase.
He shared his story in an interview with CBS News. In this Q&A, Andreas explains what motivated him and why he feels so strongly about younger teens participating in elections.
Where did your passion for politics come from?
Throughout Middle School, I watched a show called “The West Wing,” and it got me interested. Especially with the kind of politically charged environment D.C. is, as well as the United States as a whole, I wanted to get involved and make change.
You decided to act. Where did that motivation come from?
I was part of a program called Democracy Summer with U.S. Rep Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and that inspired me. I was the youngest person in that program so that inspired me to know that I can make change. I can step up no matter how young or old I am. I got the idea of lowering the voting age. It’s a great way to get teenagers involved as well as something I could do myself.
How did you go about advocating for this change locally?
I brought it up with a town council member, and she helped me a lot with the process and organization. Over time, after meetings and presentations, it pushed to a final vote. It was passed in March of this year (2022), and I was able to vote in my first election in May.
Why is it important for younger people to vote?
People say it’s a partisan issue, but the truth is, it’s not a partisan issue. It’s about civic responsibility, and voting is very important. If you vote in your first election, you’re 50% percent more likely to vote in your next election. It gets more people involved down the line.
What has it been like to see the response to this movement?
It has been great. I’m glad this movement is getting some light. I think it’s an issue that really can be pushed and solve a lot of problems with regards to voter engagement and people taking pride in their civic responsibility.
What about the argument that at 16, you’re not mature enough to vote. How do you respond?
I’d say I pay taxes, too. I work hard, and I feel like I have the right to have a say about things that affect my life. I’m a driver: a lot of traffic rules and regulations affect my life. I feel it’s a great way for people to get involved and care a lot more about the community.
How has Landon supported this passion in you?
I think Landon has been supportive with the people around me. Whether that be my advisor, Mrs. (Emily) Matthews, or peers that will help talk me through different points. That has been really helpful.