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Liberal City Moves Closer to Lowering Voting Age to 16

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Last month, Townhall covered how New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said lawmakers will decide if the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16 after the country’s Supreme Court deemed the current voting age “discriminatory.”

“I personally support a decrease in the voting age, but it is not a matter simply for me or even the government,” Ardern said. “Any change in electoral law of this nature requires 75% of parliamentarians’ support.”

A liberal city in the United States appears to be following suit. This month, city council members in Boston passed a petition to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections as long as they meet a set of requirements. 

"We have a lot of young people who are working — oftentimes two jobs — just to help support their families, paying taxes and on the front lines protesting and trying to find ways to have their voices heard. And every day we make decisions on their behalf," Councilor Julia Mejia, who co-sponsored the petition, said, according to WBUR. The council’s liberal members mostly sponsored the petition. 

If Mayor Michelle Wu signs the petition, it heads to the state Legislature. 

"I believe that this is an opportunity for us to organize other municipalities across the state and then create the groundswell of support that this initiative deserves and that is led by young people," Meija said, adding that the State House is where “most things go to die.”

Boston University law professor Kate Silbaugh said that lowering the voting age creates “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 to CBS News. "Those are all issues with industries that may be very eager to reach these teenagers."  

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