Urges Parliament to accept Northampton's demand to lower voting age

Posted: 7/9/2021 13:46:30 PM The Massachusetts ACLU supports a “law to amend the charter of the city of Northampton to allow reside...

Posted: 7/9/2021 13:46:30 PM

The Massachusetts ACLU supports a “law to amend the charter of the city of Northampton to allow residents 16 years of age and over to vote in preliminary and municipal elections” now in the Massachusetts legislature. Here’s why.

The bill, H830, is a self-reliance petition in which the city sought the necessary state approval to amend its charter to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in local elections. The proposal was overwhelmingly, if not unanimously, supported by Northampton City Council and the Mayor as well as members of the Northampton School Committee and Youth Commission.

United States Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that states are the laboratories of democracy for our country. Likewise, the municipalities are the laboratories of democracy for our state. The state should allow the city to expand democracy as it requested.

And, really, it’s not really an experience. Studies show that 16 and 17 year olds have the capacity and maturity to make informed electoral decisions and that in places where they have been allowed to vote, they do so conscientiously and with good judgment.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of teaching various classes at Northampton High School to 16 and 17 year olds. The level of discussion and analysis in these classes was equal to that of the many college classes I taught.

These young people work, pay taxes, drive cars and participate fully in our community. They want to get involved in issues that affect their lives and the lives, well-being and futures of their friends and family.

Voting becomes an ingrained part of their civic engagement that lasts a lifetime. Hopefully our local elected officials will continue their advocacy for this law and that the legislature will promulgate it soon. The voice of these young people must be encouraged and heard.

William C. Newman

Director, Western Massachusetts Law Office, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts

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Newsrust - US Top News: Urges Parliament to accept Northampton's demand to lower voting age
Urges Parliament to accept Northampton's demand to lower voting age
Newsrust - US Top News
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