Boston City Council moves to lower voting age for municipal elections
BOSTON - The City Council voted 9-4 Wednesday to lower the voting age for Boston elections.
The measure would allow 16 and 17-year-old residents to vote in municipal elections. It would not change any voting requirements at the state or federal level.
The home rule petition requires approval from Mayor Michelle Wu and then the state Legislature. Several other Massachusetts communities have tried to lower the voting age and failed. A bill to lower the age also stalled in the Legislature last year.
City Councilor Julia Mejia said young people may already be working multiple jobs or making their voices heard by participating in protests.
"The notion that young people may not be mature enough to make decisions like this. . . often times it's young people who are educating their parents and uncles and aunts and older folks about who's running for office and why they should vote," she said.
Boston University law professor Kate Silbaugh said teens may be mature enough to vote but lowering the vote could cause legal issues by causing a clash between the Constitutional rights of parents and protected political speech.
"If a 16-year-old has the ability to vote in Boston to influence things like the policy around cannabis shops, tobacco shops gun zoning," Silbaugh said. "Those are all issues with industries that may be very eager to reach these teenagers."
Teens WBZ-TV spoke with said they'd take advantage of the opportunity.
"Definitely. I think it's a very good thing that maybe we'll be able to go do it too. Because maybe we have a voice and an opinion," Charlestown teenager Johan Estrella said.
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