Vermont town rejects lowering voting age to 16: report

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2015 10:10 AM

By Ted Siefer

(Reuters) - Voters in a Vermont town on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected lowering the minimum voting age in local elections to 16 from 18, an idea that had been promoted by a longtime activist, a newspaper reported.

Residents of Brattleboro voted against the "youth vote amendment" by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, the Brattleboro Reformer said. The amendment was among proposals considered during the annual town meeting.

Had voters approved the measure, Brattleboro, a left-leaning town of about 12,000 people in southern Vermont, would have become the second U.S. municipality to lower the voting age to 16, following the Washington suburb of Takoma Park, Maryland, in 2013.

The idea was put forward by Kurt Daims, an activist in the town, who said lowering the voting age would boost voter turnout and extend rights to a "disenfranchised group."

"Many teens have part-time jobs. They pay sales tax like everyone else. Yet they have no representation in government," Daims said in an interview before the vote.

Critics of lowering the voting age have argued that teenagers at those ages lack maturity and judgment.

If the measure had passed, it would have required the state Legislature's approval to take effect. Eighteen is the age minimum for state and federal elections.

The most common minimum voting age in the world is 18, but several countries have moved to lower the age to 16. In 2007, Austria became the first country in the European Union to set its voting age at 16.

In 2008, Daims was behind an effort to have Brattleboro indict then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over the Iraq war, in a symbolic gesture that was approved by local voters.

(Reporting by Ted Siefer in Manchester, New Hampshire; Editing by Scott Malone, Lisa Lambert and Peter Cooney)