Takoma Park considers allowing teens to vote

John Aaron, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Can a 16-year-old be trusted with a ballot?

That question is being debated in Takoma Park.

City Councilmember Seth Grimes is backing a measure along with fellow council member Tim Male that would lower the voting age to 16 for municipal elections in Takoma Park.

“We come across many 16-year-olds who are engaged in the system and ready to vote,” says Grimes, who believes lowering the voting age would boost voter turnout.

Grimes says that voting at age 16 may be controversial in the U.S., but it is already happening in Europe in countries like Austria, Norway, and Germany.

He says mature 16- and 17-year-olds are likely to make informed decisions, while immature ones simply won’t register to vote.

The measure now heads to a public hearing on April 8.

Grimes believes the council will get behind the proposal and he hopes it will be in place by the fall, when the next Takoma Park city election will take place. He says boosting voter turnout will not give any candidate an advantage in the already-progressive city.

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