Extending the vote to 17 year olds

I’m pleased that City Councilor Patrick Murphy’s motion to extend the vote in municipal elections passed last night. Hopefully our legislators will guide the resulting bill through the home rule process on Beacon Hill until it becomes law. To let it languish there would just fuel the same type of youthful distrust of the political system that this motion is intended to address. Gerry Nutter has reported on Councilor Murphy’s reasons for the motion and Mario Boiardi has shared his opinion on the motion on Gerry’s blog.

The reason I support it is mainly logistical. Young people tend to reach age 18 during their senior year in high school, but rarely in time to participate in a November election. This wastes the group dynamics that exist in high school where peer pressure and political activity by friends would increase the likelihood of a young person voting in the fall of senior year. With the voting age at 18, it’s only after high school graduation that most young people become eligible to vote. By then, these young voters are dispersed to college and work and the collective energy of senior year is dissipated.

This proposal is not the end-all of voter apathy, especially since it would only apply to municipal elections. Still, it might just plant the seed in some young people of the habit of voting and to me that’s a good thing.

4 Responses to Extending the vote to 17 year olds

  1. Gerry Nutter says:

    Thanks for the Plug

    It’s Mario Boiardi post that you linked to on my site (Mario is a new contributor) and his view on the motion, not mine.

  2. Renee Aste says:

    Local elections are every other year on the odd year in November, so only Seniors graduating on the ‘even’ years get to participate. Shouldn’t it then be lowered to 16 then, so both Juniors and Seniors (and some sophomores) can participate at least once. It’s not that I think young adults can’t make decisions. I think my concern is that it doesn’t become school civics project, but rather individuals participating as adult peers.

  3. Steve says:

    Perhaps I’m a bit of a cynic, but I’d wager that nine our of ten 16 and 17 year olds
    you stop downtown wouldn’t know who the manager or the mayor of the city is.
    When I was 17, I’m sure I didn’t either. You’re focused on “other things.”
    (I just tried an experiment-I asked my sophomore daughter “Who’s the mayor of Lowell?”
    She said “Deval Patrick.” Her second guess was Steve Panagiatakos).
    OK maybe I’m a lousy parent-teacher.

  4. tammie says:

    I understand where your coming from with all this , BUT i bet you if you was to go downtown now in Lowell or UTEC , you would be able to ask the majority of the teens there who the mayor, governor, etc. The reasoning some dont really know about them is because we’re not getting that teach to us in school. Yes, learning about the past can be exciting and a really important to know, but we aren’t learning about the present thats hurting us teens now.