Boston City Councilors weigh allowing 16, 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections
BOSTON -- Boston City Councilors will vote on Wednesday to determine if a special law that would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections moves forward. The law would not change any voting requirements at the state or federal level.
The petition for a special law was offered by City Councilors Julia Mejia, Kenzie Bok, Liz Breadon, Kendra Lara, Ricardo Arroyo, and Ruthzee Louijeune.
"A lot of decisions that directly impact young people are being made without their direct consent ... The time has come to acknowledge the critical role that young people play in our City and grant them the right to have a say in how our City is run," the petition said.
If Wednesday's vote passes, this would require approval by the mayor and then the state legislature.
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."
Charlestown teens Johan Estrella and Reynald Desir said if they were given the chance to vote, they would take it.
"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," Estrella said.
Several other Massachusetts communities have tried to lower the voting age and failed. A bill to lower the age also stalled in the state legislature last year.
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