Gov. Phil Scott vetoes 16- and 17-year-olds voting in Brattleboro

Montpelier, Vt. — On February 28, Governor Phil Scott returned without signature and vetoed H.361 and sent the following letter to the General Assembly:

February 28, 2022

The Honorable BetsyAnn Wrask
Clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives
115 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633

Dear Ms. Wrask:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning H.361, An Act Relating to Approval of Amendments to the Charter of the Town of Brattleboro, without my signature.

While I applaud 16- and 17-year-old Vermonters who take an interest in the issues affecting their communities, their state and their country, I do not support lowering the voting age in Brattleboro.

First, given how inconsistent Vermont law already is on the age of adulthood, this proposal will only worsen the problem. For example, the Legislature has repeatedly raised the age of accountability to reduce the consequences when young adults commit criminal offenses. They have argued this approach is justified because these offenders are not mature enough to contemplate the full range of risks and impacts of their actions.

Testimony given by leaders from Columbia University’s Justice Lab, who said Vermont should raise the upper age of juvenile jurisdiction for most crimes, (including some violent crimes) described adolescents and what they called “emerging adults” as more volatile; more susceptible to peer influence; greater risk-takers; and less future-oriented than adults. This view was cited by the Legislature as justification to expand the definition of “child” to those 18 to 22 for purposes of criminal accountability. “Youthful offenders” up to age 22 may now avoid criminal responsibility for their crimes.

Second, if the Legislature is interested in expanding voting access to school-aged children, they should debate this policy change on a statewide basis. I do not support creating a patchwork of core election laws and policies that are different from town to town. The fundamentals of voting should be universal and implemented statewide.

For these reasons, I am returning this legislation without my signature pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution.

I understand this is a well-intended local issue. I urge the Legislature to take up a thorough and meaningful debate on Vermont’s age of majority and come up with consistent, statewide policy for both voting and criminal justice.


Philip B. Scott

Image courtesy of Public domain

6 thoughts on “Gov. Phil Scott vetoes 16- and 17-year-olds voting in Brattleboro

  1. After bragging that he voted for Joe Biden for President, Gov. Phil Scott tries to redeem his electability prospects!

  2. Great news, Sixteen and Seventeen your old are just that ” Kids “. they will become an adult
    at the ripe age of ” Eighteen “, and then they can even enlist in the military on their own, and
    other adult things legally ……………………………..

    Any politician looking for kids to vote, you know they are the same people looking for “Illegals ”
    to vote……….They have no shame !!

    The clown bus has come to town and it’s parked in Montpelier, at the statehouse.

  3. these laws are showing us how out of touch the legislature is with reality. Contrast this with the recent past. today you can commit crimes and not be punished as an adult if your 22. When I was 21 during the time of the Vietnam war, I was handing codes that could release nuclear weapons. But hey, participation trophies are helpful to growing up so the liberals think…

  4. The Vermont Legislature believes that kids are too immature and should be held to different standards than adults for crimes they commit……They should not be held to adult standards…….On the other hand, these same immature kids should be treated as adults and allowed to vote.

    Can someone in the legislate please explain this convoluted reasoning?

    • Can anyone in the state legislature explain anything?
      I know, politics is hard and you have to be willing to give up re-election for doing the right thing.

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