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Age of candidacy is the minimum age at which a person can legally qualify to hold certain elected government offices. In many cases, it also determines the age at which a person may be eligible to stand for an election or be granted ballot access.
Many youth rights groups view current age of candidacy requirements as unjustified age discrimination. Occasionally people who are younger than the minimum age will run for an office in protest of the requirement or because they don't know that the requirement exists. On extremely rare occasions, young people have been elected to offices they do not qualify for and have been deemed ineligible to assume the office.
In 1934, Rush Holt of West Virginia was elected to the Senate of the United States at the age of 29. Since the U.S. Constitution requires senators to be at least 30, Holt was forced to wait until his 30th birthday, six months after the start of the session, before being sworn in.
In 1954, Richard Fulton won election to the Tennessee Senate. Shortly after being sworn in, Fulton was ousted from office because he was only 27 years old at the time. The Tennessee State Constitution required that senators be at least 30. Rather than hold a new election, the previous incumbent, Clifford Allen, was allowed to resume his office for another term. Fulton went on to win the next State Senate election in 1956 and was later elected to the US House of Representatives where he served for 10 years.
On several occasions, the Socialist Workers Party (USA) has nominated candidates too young to qualify for the offices they were running for. In 1972, Linda Jenness ran as the SWP presidential candidate, although she was only 31 at the time. Since the U.S. Constitution requires that the President and Vice President be at least 35 years old, Jenness was not able to receive ballot access in several states in which she otherwise qualified. Despite this handicap, Jenness still received 83,380 votes. In 2004, the SWP nominated Arrin Hawkins as the party's vice-presidential candidate, although she was only 28 at the time. Hawkins was also unable to receive ballot access in several states due to her age.
In the United States many groups have attempted to lower age of candidacy requirements in various states. In 1994, South Dakota voters rejected a ballot measure that would have lowered the age requirements to serve as a State Senator or State Representative from 25 to 18. In 1998, however, they approved a similar ballot measure that reduced the age requirements for those offices from 25 to 21. In 2002, Oregon voters rejected a ballot measure that would have reduced the age requirement to serve as a State Representative from 21 to 18. However, in New York State, the age requirement for State Senator or Assemblyman is 18.
During the early 2000s, the British Youth Council and other groups successfully campaigned to lower age of candidacy requirements in the United Kingdom. The age of candidacy was reduced from 21 to 18 in England, Wales and Scotland on 1 January 2007, when section 17 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 entered into force.
In Australia, any person 18 years of age or older may stand for election to public office at federal, state or local government level.
The youngest ever member of the House of Representatives was 20 year old Wyatt Roy elected in the 2010 federal election after the Electoral Act 1918 was amended to reduce the age of candidacy for that office from 21 to 18.
In Austria, a person must be 18 years of age or older to stand in elections to the European Parliament or National Council. The Diets of regional Länder are able to set a minimum age lower than 18 for candidacy in elections to the Diet itself as well as to municipal councils in the Land. In presidential elections the candidacy age is 35.
According to the Constitution of Belize, a person must be at least 18 years old to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives and must be at least 30 to be Speaker of the House. A person must be at least 18 years old to be appointed to the Senate and must be at least 30 to be President or Vice-President of the Senate. As only members of the House of Representatives are eligible to be appointed Prime Minister, the Prime Minister must be at least 18 years old. A person must also be at least 18 years old to be elected to a village council.
The Brazilian Constitution (Article 14, Section 3 (VI)) defines 35 years as the minimum age for someone to be elected President, Vice-President or Senator; 30 years for state Governor or Vice-Governor; 21 for Federal or State Deputy, Mayor or Vice-Mayor; and 18 for city Councilman.
In Canada, any person 18 years of age or older may stand for election to public office. However, to be appointed to the Senate, one must be at least 30 years of age, must possess land worth at least $4,000 in the province for which he or she is appointed, and must own real and personal property worth at least $4,000, above his or her debts and liabilities. These restrictions were most recently enforced in 1997.
In Chile the minimum age required to be elected President of the Republic is 35 years on the day of the election. Before the 2005 reforms the requirement was 40 years, and from 1925 to 1981 it was 30 years. For senators it is 35 years (between 1981 and 2005 it was 40 years) and for deputies it is 21 years (between 1925 and 1970 it was 35 years).
In Cyprus the minimum age to be elected president is 35 years.
In Denmark, any adult 18 years of age or older can become a candidate and be elected in any public election.
In Hong Kong a person must be at least 21 to be candidate in a district council or Legislative Council election. A person must be at least 40 to be candidate in the Chief Executive election, and also at least 40 to be candidate in the election for the President of the Legislative Council from among the members of the Legislative Council.
In Indonesia a person must be at least:
In Italy a person must be at least 50 to be President of the Republic, 40 to be a Senator, or 25 to be a Deputy, as specified in the 1947 Constitution of Italy. 18 years of age is sufficient, however, to be elected member of the Council of Regions, Provinces, and Municipalities (Communes).
In the Netherlands, any adult 18 years of age or older can become a candidate and be elected in any public election.
Section 47, Clause 1 of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa states that "Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly", defaulting to Section 46 which "provides for a minimum voting age of 18 years" in National Assembly elections; Sections 106 and 105 provide the same for provincial legislatures.
In Turkey, a person must be at least 40 to be President. The age of candidacy for the Premiership is the same as the age for parliamentary eligibility. In 2006, a proposal was submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party to reduce the age for parliamentary eligibility from 30 to 25. The Parliament approved the proposal on October 2006. As of 2012[update], Turkey is considering lowering the age of candidacy to 18.[clarification needed]
In the UK (other than in Northern Ireland) a person must be aged 18 or over to stand in elections to all parliaments, assemblies, and councils at the European, UK, devolved, or local level. This age requirement also applies in elections to any individual elective public office; the main example is that of an elected mayor, whether of London or a local authority. There are no higher age requirements for particular positions in public office. Candidates are required to be aged 18 on both the day of nomination and the day of the poll. This was reduced from 21 by the Electoral Administration Act 2006.
In the United States, a person must be at least 35 to be President or Vice President, 30 to be a Senator, or 25 to be a Representative, as specified in the U.S. Constitution. Most states in the U.S. also have age requirements for the offices of Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. Some states have a minimum age requirement to hold any elected office (usually 21 or 18). Most states will not allow ballot access to people who do not meet the age requirement of the office they are running for.