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Hyattsville considers lowering voting age

WASHINGTON — Hyattsville is on its way to becoming the second municipality in the country to lower the voting age and allow 16 and 17-year-olds to cast a vote.

Monday night, Hyattsville’s City Council took public comment about Councilman Patrick Paschall’s motion to give some teens the right to vote.

“I’m here to encourage you all to pass the motion,” said 16-year-old Juwan Blocker.

“I believe there will be a huge turnout of kids who want to vote,” said Blocker who is the vice president of his class at Parkdale High School.

Working off nearby Takoma Park’s example, the first municipality to approve a lower voting age, Paschall points to studies that support including younger voters.

“Sixteen and 17-year-olds voting  … actually vote at higher rates than 18 to 20-year-olds. They establish a habit of voting that they carry through the rest of their life,” he says.

Paschall says studies show the earlier teens are given a voice in the democratic process, the sooner they own that voice and make their own choices — many independently of their parents’ political views.

At the public meeting, 15-year-old Sarah Leonard, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School spoke in support of the motion.

“I think I speak for most of our class,  this has encouraged us to be aware, pay a bit more attention to what’s going on,” she said.

Councilman Tim Hunt is calling for a referendum on the issue which goes to a second reading Jan. 20. Upon passing, it becomes law in 50 days, well ahead of Hyattsville’s election on May 5.

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