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Venezuela May Lower Voting Age, Add Gay Rights in Constitution

A Venezuelan legislative committee voted to lower the voting age and protect gay rights in a expansion of President Hugo Chavez's plan to rewrite the country's constitution.

Venezuelans would gain the right to vote at age 16 under the proposed changes, down from the current age of 18, and discrimination based on sexual orientation would be formally outlawed in the constitution, according to a statement on the National Assembly's Web site.

The Chavez-controlled National Assembly is likely trying to expand the voter base and tap increased support for the president's socialist ``Bolivarian revolution'' among younger Venezuelans, said Riordan Roett, head of Latin American Studies at Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

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