Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) threatened on Tuesday to raise the voting age in his state to 21 after lawmakers overrode his veto on legislation that increased the age limit to buy tobacco products.
LePage, still fuming over the new measure that was passed last week, said he would introduce two bills in January 2018, which would raise the age for voting and military service to 21 in Maine. The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1971, says all citizens 18 and older can vote, an obstacle that didn’t seem to deter LePage.
“In January I’m putting up two bills. If 18-year-olds are too young and can’t make the right decision to buy cigarettes, then I don’t think they should be able to vote. And secondly, if they’re too young to buy cigarettes, then I think we ought to not send them to war until they’re 21,” he said in a Tuesday radio interview on WVOM. “I’m gonna put up two bills and let them look at the hypocrisy and see how sensible that was.”
LePage’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The governor made a similar threat in a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday.
“If you don’t believe 18-year-olds are adults who can make their own decisions, then I hope you will support legislation that increases the voting age to 21 and prevents military service until a person turns 21,” he wrote.
State Sen. Nate Libby (D), who co-sponsored the bill, became addicted to tobacco when he was 18. He disagreed with the governor’s comments about voting, saying that there were reasons for putting age restrictions on potentially dangerous behaviors. In Maine, he noted, one has to be 21 to buy alcohol or gamble.
“When the governor sent his letter calling us hypocrites, that’s pretty frustrating,” he said in an interview with HuffPost. “It’s pretty common for this governor to link unrelated subjects in policy discussions. It’s a pretty foolish idea.”