Louisiana House committee advances bill increasing age that children can accompany parents in voting booths

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Rep. Lance Harris proposed a bill to allow teens up to 15 to accompany their parents into voting booths (Photo courtesy of the Louisiana House of Representatives)

BATON ROUGE– Your teenager may soon be able to accompany you in the voting booth. A House committee voted Thursday to advance a bill to increase the age that children can accompany their parents in the voting machine.

The bill, by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, permits children up to 15 years old to enter voting machines. Present law allows parents to bring only a pre-teen child into the booth.

“By making this change, we would be teaching the younger generation the election process and increase their level of participation once they reach the voting age of 18,” said Harris.

Rep. Foy Gadberry, R-West Monroe, raised concerns that verifying a child’s age could complicate the voting process, but Harris said election officials could reasonably guess a child’s age.

Members of the House Committee on House and Governmental Affairs expressed enthusiasm for the bill before advancing it unanimously to the House floor. Rep. Candace Newell, D-New Orleans said that it is a joy to see children excited about the election process.

“I remember the first time I ever stepped into a voting machine was in elementary school, and we got to vote on our fifth-grade class representative,” said Newell. “It just was exciting to see that my little button press could do something bigger.”

Jennifer Miranda of Ambitious Parents and Children of Louisiana said that as a stay-at-home mom, she appreciates bringing her children to vote. Miranda also spoke about her husband’s voting experience as a recently naturalized United States citizen.

“He was terrified to go in by himself because he had never done this before,” she said. “It was a wonderful thing for our family of four to go in and vote together, and this provides lots of opportunities for more voter turnout.”

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