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Takoma Park teens make history with votes

Young first-time voters getting ready to cast ballots in Takoma Park, Md. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON – Some teenagers in the area made history on Election Day.

On Tuesday, Takoma Park, Md. became the first city in the United States to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in city elections.

Teens as young as 16 are already voting in some other countries such as Austria, and the councilman who proposed the plan in Takoma Park says he did so to try to get more people involved in city elections.

About a quarter of all the teens newly eligible to vote in Takoma Park had registered two weeks ahead of the election, and in posts on Facebook and Twitter Tuesday, the city said at least 18 teens age 16 and 17 had registered on Election Day itself. Same-day voting registration is also new this year in Takoma Park.

Sixteen-year-old Zoe Rothberg admits when she went in to vote, she thought for a moment about writing in her own name as a candidate on the ballot.

“But then I was like, no, we have this privilege to vote and if all the 16- year-olds make a joke out of it, then no other 16-year-olds are going to get to vote. So we have to take it seriously.”

Another teen, 17-year-old Nick Byron, was particularly energized after voting for the very first time.

“It was amazing. It’s hard to appreciate the historical value of what just happened,” he said.

Byron was among those who urged city council to pass the law allowing teens his age to vote.


Among those making history was Natalie Collina, 16. She talks about her experience and a voting advocate discusses developing voting as a lifelong habit, in this video from American University students, Mary Bowerman, Rae Daniel and Danielle DeCourcey:

Takoma Park City Elections Welcome 16-year- old Voters from DC Intersections on Vimeo.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.


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