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Voting Age In Somerville May Drop To 16

SOMERVILLE (CBS) - Somerville 16- and 17-year-olds may get the right to vote if the city council has its say. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said that the Somerville City Council unanimously voted to the extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds Thursday.

The city has sent a Home Rule Petition to the Statehouse. If it is approved, Somerville will be the first community in Massachusetts to have a local voting age of 16.

Curtatone tweeted the announcement, saying "It's a recognition these students are engaged & active citizens, with the biggest possible stake in our collective future."

He added, "Extra thought: We want to make local engagement and democratic participation lifelong habits for our student population."

This move would only apply to 16- and 17-year-olds voting in local elections. Voters would still have to be 18 to participate in state and federal elections.

A Home Rule Petition is a request from a city or town for state legislators to bring forth and pass a bill that would only affect that one municipality.

According to the state's website, "According to the Massachusetts General Court website, during each annual session since 2001, approximately 70 percent of all legislation approved, or 230 new laws on average, have been special acts. Among requests, cities and towns must seek the State's permission to issue liquor licenses; to reorganize government or manage local elections; to reserve their money in special revenue funds; and to convey or lease certain property."

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