Why We Should Lower the Municipal Voting Age
By lowering the municipal voting age we can instill lifelong voting habits in 16 and 17 year olds, spur renewed action based civic education and revitalize democracy at the local level. Long advocated by leading election reform group FairVote and civics education advocate Generation Citizen, lowering the municipal voting age is an idea whose time has come.
It creates lifelong voters
Voting is habitual, research shows that if you voted in the last election you're more likely to vote in the next, and that this is especially true among young voters. Instilling this habit in our young voters should be a priority, yet our voting age is set so that new voters first vote occurs as they are transitioning into college or the workforce, making voting more difficult. Lowering the municipal voting age will help 16&17 year olds cultivate that habit with the support of their parents, schools and communities.
It creates better citizens
Voting itself isn't the only way we engage with our democracy or community, and its important that young voters become effective and engaged citizens. By lowering the municipal voting age we open the best classroom of democracy in America, New England Town Meeting. There, in one of the few true democracies in the world, they can cultivate the tools of citizenship, including public speaking, critical thinking about different arguments and points of view, and a better understanding of how town, states, and federal authorities intersect and govern.
It creates a healthier democracy
Active and knowledgeable citizens are essential to democracy, but the effects of lowering the municipal voting age go far beyond that. Lowering the voting age makes civics education a priority in schools, gets parents civically engaged, and helps make our democracy more inclusive to young voices. Bringing engaged and excited voters into town politics will hopefully spur more participation on town boards and volunteer organizations, improving our towns and building community.