Takoma Park may become city with nation’s youngest voters

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Hitting Sweet 16 includes all sorts of coming-of-age perks and responsibilities. Voting could become a new one.

A plan to lower the voting age in the City of Takoma Park, Md., would create the youngest voters in the nation.

In 1971, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18.

The measure in Takoma Park would only apply to local elections for mayor and the city council, and its objective, in part, is to make the election process more representative and diverse.

Particularly, supporters say 18-year-olds juggle a variety of changes that make voting a difficult habit to form.

“Eighteen is the point in your life when you’re just about to go through a whole bunch of transitions,” says Tim Male, one of the councilmembers behind the measure.

“You’re off to college, you’re moving out of home and your life is awhirl with change,” he says.

A public hearing on the measure is set for April 8.

Male doesn’t believe the effort is any kind of national revolution. He does, however, consider the local level the ideal place to try out the idea of voting at age 16.

“If people are still at home, there’s a bunch of evidence that suggests learning to vote, experiencing voting with your family, experiencing voting with a set of stable peers creates a habit of voting throughout life,” he says.

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