South LA teen wants to change the voting age to 16

According to a pew research study, Gen Z will make up nearly 1 in 10 eligible voters in 2020.
19-year-old Tyler Okeke is working to change the voting age to 16.

Okeke's a first-year student at the University of Chicago studying public policy but he's originally from South LA.

His interest in politics started when he served as a student member of the LAUSD Board of Education in 2018.

"When it came to discussions that were being had about policy, usually, the discourse existed on the binary of whether a member supported charter schools and supported LA teachers. And sparingly, did it ever really come to a discussion about what's happening in the classroom or what the needs of students are," Okeke said.

Now he's working as a Vote-at-16 Youth Organizer with Power California, which works to empower young people of color to vote.

"16 is the right age for a number of reasons. First, we know that 18 just isn't going to work. It's not working and it hasn't. And we see that in low voter turnout among voters 18 to 23," said Okeke.

According to an ABC7 analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the younger you are, the less likely you are to vote.

And in this election, Californians could help Okeke get closer to his goal with proposition 18.

If it passes, prop 18 would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they turn 18 before the next general election.

"We're a generation that has been paying attention and we're deeply worried about our futures," Okeke said. "So, it's important that number one, we have a say in decisions that are affecting us now. And also, that we think critically about how to strengthen our democracy and bridge the gap between young folks not turning out and the energy that we have online."
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.