Progress For Lowering the Voting Age In Massachusetts
Two youth-led NYRA-allied organizations have made great strides towards making a lower voting age a reality. In 2002, Cambridge, Massachusetts passed a home rule petition to lower the voting age through the Cambridge City Council and that legislation has been waiting legislative action at the state level ever since. In 2004 the Cambridge Kids Council, the official youth voice of the Cambridge, MA city government got involved in pushing for the state legislature to pass the home rule petition. The effort received a big jolt this year when the teen leaders from the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, MA took on the issue locally and passed a similar measure through the Lowell City Council. UTEC has been petitioning the State to allow a municipal ballot initiative to lower the Lowell voting age to 17. NYRA members Stefan Muller and Usiel Phoenix joined UTEC members at the MA State House on April 13 to support the Lowell initiative while it was being discussed in committee. Among those who testified in favor of the initiative were a Lowell councilor, a high school principal, a representative of the voter engagement organization MassVote, and, of course, local young people.
On May 11, a hearing was held for legislation sponsored by the Cambridge Kids Council that would allow municipalities in the state to lower their voting ages independently, without state approval. NYRA members Daniel Widrew and Ralph Verna both spoke in favor of the legislation. This is the most progress we have seen towards a lower voting age since the 26th amendment. These bills have been passed by elected officials in their local communities and with continued work at the state level, we are hopeful that the state legislature will implement these changes.