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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Political savvy has no age requirement

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

There's a movement under way in the Missouri Legislature this year to allow 21-year-old residents to run for the House or Senate in Missouri. The current Constitution says that you must be 24 to serve in the House and 30 to serve in the Senate. But with term limit legislation rapidly eroding the halls of Jefferson City, this measure might find some support this year.

It's rather interesting to read and study why the current age requirements are in place here. The bottom line is that no one can actually explain how those age requirements were established since they don't seem to conform with any similar requirements in other states. But that mystery is lost to history.

For argument's sake, let's simply say that 21-year-olds today are probably much more politically savvy than they were when these age requirements were established in the early days of our state's formation. And by and large, few would find any problem with voting for a 21-year-old bright political newcomer. There's also the valid argument that allowing military service and voting privileges at age 18 should also be considered when discussing political age requirements. I, for one, accept those arguments.

This year may not be the year. But soon I believe this age requirement will be put to the voters of the state. The outcome is anyone's guess.

For the record let me say that I know of some 21-year-olds who would make a much better representative for our state than some of those currently serving. I do believe that "life experiences" are important in shaping the approach to government service. But who's to say that you can't gain sufficient "life experiences" in those 21 years?

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