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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston City Council moved to lower the voting age to 16

Wednesday’s decision, made by the majority of Boston City councilors, moves the city’s 16- and 17-year-old citizens one step closer to becoming voters. The 9–4 vote in the City Council on Nov. 30 will allow all 16- and 17-year-old residents to vote in municipal elections. (2)
The draft of the Home Rule Petition acknowledged that the younger generation would lead the future and play an essential role in our democratic system. Hence, it is very imperative that they get a vote too. “At the same time, a lot of decisions that directly impact young people are being made without their direct consent,” read one of the clauses in the petition. (3)
City Councilors Julia Mejia, Kenzie Bok, Liz Breadon, Kendra Lara, Ricardo Arroyo and Ruthzee Louijeune offered the Home Rule Petition, which will now be presented on the Massachusetts Legislature’s floor for approval. People are skeptical about the petition’s approval, as several similar proposals in Cambridge and Somerville failed to pass the State House in recent years. (3,1)
The proposal only grants voting rights to Boston teens for the municipal elections, not state or federal. If 16- and 17-year-old residents are registered to vote in municipal elections, the proposed law would directly pre-register them in state and federal elections as well, for when they turn 18. (1)
In a conversation with the Boston Globe, City Councilor Kenzie Bok said that the city is ready to start registering young Boston voters as soon as the petition gets through the State Legislature floor. “Knowing what I know about the timeline of State House deliberation, I think it’s more likely that we would have it in place for the 2025 local elections,” said Councilor Bok to the Globe.
With less than a month remaining in the two-year session, lawmakers proposed seven forms of legislation that would decrease the voting age throughout the state, but they have yet to be passed. Boston City Councilor Liz Breadon said that she is optimistic about the petition and hopes to pass it as a law with the help of the Boston delegation.
According to Chuck Corra, associate director of coalitions and policy research at Generation Citizen, the concept of lowering the voting age is becoming increasingly popular across the nation. For instance, in Maryland, some cities presently permit 16-year-olds to vote. Corra further argued that if a 16-year-old is able to get their driver’s license and can work in many states, “it’s only natural that we should be able to trust young people of that age to be able to vote and have a say in the policies that are affecting them.” (1)
City Councilor Erin Murphy voted against the petition. Murphy is concerned about teens’ right to vote privately when voter registration information becomes public. Murphy expressed her concern about kids voting under the influence instead of making conscious choices. (4)
Paul Craney, a spokesperson for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, also disapproved of the idea of lowering the voting age. Craney expressed that, although some kids might seem mature at that age, 16- and 17-year-olds are still in their developing stage. Additionally, high school students face peer pressure more than older generations. (1)
For the towns of Northampton, Brookline, Somerville and Wendell, four home rule petitions to lower the voting age were forwarded by the Election Laws Committee. The committee also considered seven state-wide bills and sent them out to study the proposal across the state. When asked whether citizens should anticipate the petition on the committee’s agenda, a spokesperson said they could not speak to the committee’s future filings. (2)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley tweeted, “Young people have a stake in our democracy and their voices deserve to be heard in our elections.”
Sources:

  1. https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/11/30/metro/city-council-votes-lower-voting-age-16-local-elections/
  2. https://www.wbur.org/news/2022/12/01/boston-16-17-year-old-voters-council-approval
  3. https://www.boston.gov/sites/default/files/file/2022/02/Docket%20%230185%20HRP%20re_%20Legal%20Voting%20Rights%20in%20Municipal%20Elections%2016%2017.pdf
  4. https://www.nbcboston.com/news/politics/boston-city-council-approves-lowering-voting-age-to-16-pending-approval-from-wu-state/2908123/
About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor