Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote? Massachusetts town mulls lowering age for local elections

Sixteen-year-olds in Brookline, Massachusetts, could get the chance to vote in local elections.

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The proposal is spearheaded by a local leader who believes teens in town deserve the right to have their voices heard on local issues.

"We've seen a lot more younger people getting involved at the local level," said Heather Hamilton, a Brookline Select Board member.

Hamilton has taken notice of young teens now taking steps to play active roles in their community. She sees their passion to promote change, something she also felt at a young age.

"I would have appreciated having a formalized voice, which is the right to vote," she said.

The proposal will lower the voting age to 16 only in Brookline for local elections, which would mean teens could have a say in school committee affairs and ballot questions.

"If I could participate in politics without being 18, that would be great," said Maria Harris, a Brookline High School student.

Students like Harris say they would be confident giving this opportunity to her peers.

"I think our 16-year-olds are educated enough to do so," Harris said. "We have a lot of politically active kids in our school, so I think they would be well informed."

But some say teens may not be ready for such a big responsibility.

"I think it's a little young at 16," Victoria Jardus of Brookline said. "It would be their parents' influence for the most part."

Jardus believes those two years really do make a difference.

"But I think the parents would have a giant influence as opposed when you’re 18 and you're supposed to be on your own," she said.

First, Brookline town officials will need to vote to pass this proposal later this month. If it passes, they will ask permission from the legislature.

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