A Senate bill (SB966) that would amend the constitution to change the age qualification for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor from 30 to 25 went up to the Governor on April 9th. The Governor has 10 days to review a constitutional amendment proposal prior to the legislature's voting. The bill passed the House on final reading today. The proposed amendment will now go onto the November ballot, and Hawaii residents will be able to vote for or against the change in the next election.
Why are there minimum age requirements for election to office? The Framers of the U.S. Constitution argued that the stability of character can only be realized with age and that youth lack the maturity to serve in office.
In spite of this, many states have voluntarily lowered age requirements for governor. The minimum age is 21 in South Dakota, and in several other states such as California there are no specified minimum age.
So, how young is too young? When I asked a 21-year-old friend about his opinion on this issue, he retorted, "So, I can vote and get shot at in war, but I can't run for office." Well, just not for governor and Lt. governor.
After sending out a mass email to friends asking whether they would agree to lower the age of candidacy to 25 in Hawaii, I was surprised to see the varied points of views.
Those who would not support the change in the constitution argued that 25-year-olds just seem too young to govern because of their "lack of experience." Those words came from individuals as old as 35 and as young as 20.
Experience is the word, isn't it? The way I see it, it isn't about job experience, legislative experience or political experience, but rather life experience. Choosing an arbitrary number like 30 is pointless and tells me that people who have great ideas, the capability to govern and the aspirations will be rejected before having the opportunity to try because they weren't born on or before the required year.
Of course certain 18-year-olds, 21-year-olds, 25-year-olds (and even a handful of 30-year-olds) may, in fact, be too young and immature to hold office, but aren't constituents smart enough to factor in maturity level, regardless of age, when voting?