Boston City Council Approves Lowering Voting Age to 16

If the measure is approved, Boston will become one of the largest cities in the U.S. to give 16- and 17-year-olds the power to vote

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Teenagers in Boston may soon be able to vote in local elections after the city council approved an amendment to lower the voting age to 16; the measure's fate now depends on Massachusetts legislators.

Boston wouldn't be the first city to make such move, but it could become one of the largest cities in the country to give younger residents the power to vote.

With a majority vote (9-4), the Boston City Council approved lowering the voting age to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to participate in local elections.

Co-sponsors Julia Mejia and Kenzie Bok introduced the amendment earlier this year after her former director of public policy, Jacob deBlecourt, persuaded her to bring it to the city council.

"Nothing is permanent," said deBlecourt, who helped draft the initial petition. "You know, you can make any change that you want."

It's time that 16- and 17-year-olds are represented in government, deBlecourt believes.

"A lot of young people are working jobs, are paying taxes, we have a bit of a belief that no taxation without representation is a thing we're supposed to believe in," said deBlecourt. "And this is a really good example of us trying to make that a reality because 16- and 17-year-olds play a major role in the city of Boston."

Erin Murphy, one of the four members who voted against the measure, is concerned about voter privacy of teens, as records of registered voters become public. She doesn't believe waiting until 18 deters anyone from becoming civically engaged.

"I worry that certain kids would be influenced into voting for a certain candidate instead of really coming up with their own opinion," added Murphy.

"I do think I'm ready to vote," said Boston Collegiate Charter School student Jennifer Gil Naranjo.

The 17-year-old argued the newer generations have greater access to information and can make more informed decisions.

"We want, like, public transportation and public education to be fixed to be supported, to be helped, and a lot of students should understand that voting is their right," she said.

A handful of other municipalities have tried lowing the voting age, but those efforts failed to get state approval.

The Boston proposal needs to be signed by Mayor Michelle Wu before it goes to the Massachusetts Legislature.

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