WASHINGTON — Greenbelt, Maryland, might lower the voting age in city elections to 16, following the lead of neighboring Takoma Park and Hyattsville.
The Greenbelt City Council is scheduled to vote to amend the city’s charter to lower the voting age from 18 on Monday.
Ema Smith, chair of the city’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), said they’ve been working for several years to get the voting age lowered.
In August, the Greenbelt City council voted down the measure. Some members said they wanted Greenbelt residents to weigh in on the issue. During the November election, Greenbelt residents approved a nonbinding referendum to lower the voting age to 16-years-old by a 53-47 vote.
On Monday, city council will vote on whether or not to make it official.
Smith said she thinks the measure will pass Monday, as she believes the council members who voted the measure down in the summer seemed to be onboard this time around.
“There are some people in Greenbelt who do oppose it,” said Smith. If the measure passes, “any citizen in the city who opposes it can petition it.”
Following research about lowering the voting age by the YAC, they concluded that there aren’t any compelling reasons not to lower the city voting age.
“A lot of people say teenagers are not responsible and that we can’t trust them to vote. But a lot of teenagers are responsible,” said Smith.
She said the teens who would turn out to vote are those who are already engaged and informed in city politics.
“It’s not like irresponsible teenagers would take time out of their day to go vote on Election Day. Whichever 16 or 17-year-olds did turn out, it’s only because they really cared and really did their research.”
Smith said Greenbelt YAC received funds from Vote16USA, an activist group that’s working with youth across the country to get the voting age lowered, to print up campaign flyers before the Nov. 8, 2017 election.