Takoma Park, a suburb of Washington D.C., is currently weighing a proposal to lower its voting age for local elections to 16. Voters under the age of 18 would still be barred from voting in state and federal races.
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City Council member Tim Male, who proposed the initiative along with Seth Grimes, told Takoma Park Patch, “I really care about making elections easier… You meet young people who are really engaged but cannot vote.”
If passed, the lowered voting age could result in unforeseen benefits for Takoma Park. As the National Youth Rights Association points out, “Lowering the voting age to 16 will give the vote to people who have roots in a community, have an appreciation for local issues, and will be more concerned about voting than those just two years older.”
A public hearing on the amendment will be held April 8.
Takoma Park has a history of testing out innovative voting ideas. In 1991, community voters passed a referendum to allow non-citizens who were legal resident aliens to vote in local elections. That program has continued for the past 20 years, joined in the meantime by five other municipalities in Maryland.