Voters in Amherst, Granby, Pelham to consider allowing 19-year-olds to buy beer, wine

Posted by on November 4th, 2016

AMHERST — In the legislative district that will soon be represented by 22-year-old Solomon Goldstein-Rose, voters Tuesday are being asked whether they support legislation that would allow 19-year-olds to buy beer and wine.

It’s a nonbinding ballot question only in the 3rd Hampshire District and is the only public policy question on any ballot in the state. The district comprises Amherst, Pelham and part of Granby.

The question was initiated by Matthew Malone, a 48-year-old federal government actuary from Washington, D.C., who has never lived in the district.

In an email, he explained the initiative.

“I don’t consider myself to be an interloper because the only signatures that were certified (to get the measure on the ballot) where those of registered voters in Amherst and Pelham,” he said.

Malone was born in Haverhill and decided to test the proposal in Massachusetts because he still cares about the state and only needed 200 signatures to bring the question forward.

The 3rd Hampshire District made sense, he said, because it is the home of Senate President Stan Rosenberg and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Hampshire colleges.

“I did not want to try a municipal ballot question since the drinking age is set at the state level. I don’t have resources yet for a statewide ballot question,” he wrote.

Question 6 on ballots in the district reads, “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”

Goldstein-Rose, an Amherst Democrat running unopposed, said he cast his ballot early but did not vote on Question 6. “It’s weird to advise myself,” he said.

He thinks the question is curious, being proposed by a man who doesn’t live in the state. Although he doesn’t think the measure will pass, Goldstein-Rose said, “I’m a little intrigued. It’s not a crazy idea.”

Lowering the age might encourage younger people to drink only beer and wine rather than hard alcohol, and that could potentially reduce harm, Goldstein-Rose said. But he does not see the issue as a high priority for him or the Legislature any time soon.

Malone is a longtime member of the National Youth Rights Association and believes that the drinking age of 21 is age discrimination against legal adults.

“A person is legally an adult at age 18. At age 18 a person can legally enter into contracts, marry without their parents’ permission and serve in the United States military,” he wrote on

Some voters in Western Mass. will vote on whether to lower drinking age

Posted by on November 2nd, 2016

Should the drinking age be 19?

Voters in part of Hampshire County won’t just decide whether to legalize marijuana when they cast their ballots Tuesday: They’ll also vote on the drinking age.

Ballot Question No. 6 in Hampshire County’s Third District — Amherst, Pelham, and about half of Granby — asks voters whether their representative should vote for legislation that would lower the drinking age to 19 from 21.

“Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to age 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”

The question is nonbinding, so it won’t have a legal effect like the statewide referendums on charter schools, the confinement of animals, or marijuana use.

“It’s what is also sometimes known as an advisory question,” said Amherst Town Clerk Sandra Burgess. “What it’s supposed to do is send a message to their legislator. Nobody would be forced to do anything.”

Matthew Malone, a Haverhill native who lives in Washington, D.C., said he got the question on the ballot by gathering the 200 required signatures.

“It’s discriminatory against legal adults,” said Malone, who has worked with groups like the National Youth Rights Association and advocated for similar measures in Vermont in 2005. “I hope the people become more aware that it actually is age discrimination, just like [restrictions for] renting a car or staying in a hotel.”

Malone said he went to this district because it’s “very liberal” and there are a lot of college students in Amherst.

State Representative Ellen Story, who represents the district until January, said she thinks it’s a terrible idea.

“I voted yesterday and I voted ‘no,’ and I would encourage other people to vote ‘no,’ ” said Story. “I would doubt that anyone would support a bill like this. It’s not in the interest of public health.”

Story did not seek reelection.

Solomon Goldstein-Rose, a Democrat, is running unopposed for her seat. He said he has no position on the question.

“I’m interested to see what people vote on it,” said Goldstein-Rose, a 22-year-old Amherst native. He said he doesn’t plan to vote on the question because it’s supposed to advise him, but he said he doesn’t anticipate it will garner much support.

“I expect it will be defeated rather overwhelmingly,’’ he said.

Boston Globe
November 2, 2016

Measure Y1 could implement lower voting age for certain elections in Berkeley

Posted by on October 27th, 2016

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may soon be allowed to vote in Berkeley, making the city one of just a few in the country to allow them to do so.

Measure Y1, placed on the ballot by Berkeley City Council, would allow individuals 16 and older to vote for the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Directors so long as they meet certain conditions prior to approval. In addition to Berkeley, many other states and cities have movements to allow 16-year-olds to vote, including San Francisco ballot measure Proposition F that proposes age 16 as the legal age to vote in local elections.

“I think that there is growing pressure to recognize the fact that young people ought to have a say in their future,” said Sandré Swanson, a former member of the California State Assembly. “I think we have to acknowledge the young people today, given the internet and the immediate access of information … are much more informed and much more qualified to exercise civic responsibility.”

Alex Koroknay-Palicz, president of the National Youth Rights Association, said lowering the voting age has been a priority of his organization since its founding in 1998. He said that 10 years ago, the organization worked on a campaign with Berkeley High School students to lower the voting age, but it did not pass.

“For a lot of people, when they first hear about lowering the voting age, it’s like a strange bizarre new thing they never heard about or thought about before,” Koroknay-Palicz said. “After they consider it and think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense.”

Defining what age is “mature enough” to vote is a big question, Koroknay-Palicz said. He added that with the numerous responsibilities a 16-year-old already can have, such as paying taxes and driving cars, young people should not be treated as second-class citizens.

The cities of Takoma Park and Hyattsville, Maryland, found that after lowering the voting age for local elections, voter turnout rates for 16- and 17-year-old residents was higher than that of the overall population, according to Koroknay-Palicz. He noted that once someone votes for the first time, they tend to continue voting throughout their life.

VIDEO: Should San Francisco Lower Its Voting Age?

Posted by on October 24th, 2016

They pay taxes. They have to abide by the same laws as everyone else. And many are old enough to work and get behind the wheel.

But for teens under 18, the right to vote is still out of reach.

And that’s not fair, say a number of youth rights groups, who for years have pushed to lower America’s voting age to 16. In a nation with notoriously low voter turnout — particularly among 18- to 24-year-olds — allowing more young people to vote, advocates claim, would boost civic participation and give students a voice in local public affairs.

And some local campaigns to lower the voting age in various cities around the country have started to gain traction, as have the broader efforts of national youth civics groups like Generation Citizen and the National Youth Rights Association.

This year, San Francisco supervisors approved Proposition F for the November 2016 ballot. The measure would lower the city’s voting age for local elections, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for mayor and other city officials, as well as school board and citywide initiatives. It follows a multi-year organizing effort by Vote16 SF and the San Francisco Youth Commission. If the measure passes, San Francisco would become the first major city in the country to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds (effective for the next municipal election).

A similar initiative in Berkeley — Measure Y1 — would allow16- and 17-year-olds to vote, but only for school board members. There are also efforts to get similar measures up for a vote in states across the country.

Nationwide, only two municipalities — the Maryland cities of Hyattsville and Tacoma Park — have passed ordinances lowering their voting ages to 16 for local elections.

Although the voting age is still 18 in a majority of the world’s democracies, several nations including Austria, Argentina, Brazil, and Nicaragua have already lowered the voting age for national elections to 16.

Who Do Kids Want To Be President?

Posted by on October 18th, 2016

If you’re under 18, you still can’t vote (despite recent campaigns to change that) but America’s youth has spoken via Scholastic’s annual student vote campaign: If you could vote, youngsters, would you pick Hillary Clinton for president, or Donald Trump, or screw, it, why not Harambe?

Clinton took 52 percent of the votes from about 153,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, Trump only scored 35 percent. The remaining 13 percent of not-yet-actual-voters chose the write-in option, proving that kids today can be just as politically apathetic as adults are — if not more so. Of the remaining 20,000 mail-in and online ballots, Gary Johnson received 2 percent while Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein each received 1 percent. The rest were apparent acts of (either intentional or unassuming) trolling and anti-establishmentarianism for which America’s youth is becoming known — dare we forget 15-year-old Deez Nuts, who scored as much as 9 percent in some early state polls? Other write-ins including Mom, Kanye West, Spider-Man, bacon, with the late, great Harambe also scoring a mention in Scholastic’s press release.

In a statement from a representative of the National Youth Rights Association sent via Facebook message, the youth movement that focuses on lowering the voting age told Vocativ that the results reflect national polling trends, where Clinton is also taking the lead, regardless of seemingly silly write-ins.

“These types of polls for young people do have a flaw however, which is that the audience is well aware that their answer will not have any impact on the outcome of the election or even be taken seriously by analysts, as other polls are,” a National Youth Rights Association rep said. “Our guess is that if that weren’t the case, there would be less selection of what may be considered ‘joke’ candidates. However, even choosing one of these candidates can be interpreted as a protest against and dissatisfaction with the candidates put before them — something we are seeing very much of in this election — and therefore again reflecting national trends.”

While Scholastic was unable to provide the full scope of voting records from past years, disclosing that the Scholastic student vote has aligned with the actual results of every presidential election since 1940 with the exception of two (Dewey/Truman and Kennedy/Nixon), it was noted that the 13 percent proportion of write-ins “a larger percentage than in past presidential elections.”

Children in 2016 are more politically indecisive than ever

“One of the biggest reasons for that is that third party candidates are more popular this year than they’ve been in recent elections,” Stephanie Smith, editorial director for Scholastic Classroom Mgaazines, told Vocativ. “Neither of the main candidates are loved by many people. So I think more people don’t want to vote for either one of them and kids are hearing their parents talking about how they don’t like either one of them and therefore checking ‘other.’ Some kids checked other without even putting in a name.”

Children in Washington D.C. cast the highest percentage of votes for candidates other than the Democratic or Republican nominee. With 37 percent support for “other” candidates, more students there wanted anyone other than Trump or Clinton than they did either of the actual main candidates.
Trump took only 16 states in the Scholastic poll

Quotes taken from students who did choose either Clinton and Trump were fairly telling. While a sixth grader in Arizona said that they would vote for Clinton because she is “showing all women young or old you can do anything,” a Trump-supporting student of the same age from the same state said he or she would vote for Trump “because he says that he will make America great again.” The kids, they absorb the talking points.

At TIME For Kids, one of Scholastic’s main rivals in the children’s news media space, polls are still open, but so far, so lefty. Without a write-in option, Clinton currently commands roughly 69 percent of the votes, with Trump getting the 31 percent remainder.

Both polls reflect the results of other studies on America’s youth: kids just do not like Trump.

A term called “the Trump effect” has been coined as a result of multiple reports of Trump’s harsh rhetoric scaring children — particularly those of color and/or Muslim faith. It’s the cornerstone of a recent ad from the Clinton campaign called “Role Models,” which asks “what example will we set for [our children]?”

In addition to his abrasive personality, America’s youth are likely also drawing on their own politics when casting such votes. Where children base their political beliefs has been the subject of many studies and just as much contradiction. While Gallup has found that teens’ political views tend to line up with their parents’, another study from the American Sociological Review says just the opposite. And regardless of how America’s youth identifies while under their parents’ roof, yet another study from the British Journal of Political Science found that parents who consciously work impart their political perspectives on their children actually influence them to renounce such beliefs when they get older.

October 18, 2016

How Teens Are Lobbying Voters On Issues That Matter To Them

Posted by on October 18th, 2016

Imagine if there were an issue on the ballot that only affected you, but you were barred from voting on it. Like, for a ridiculous example, if there was a vote in your American history class to ban students from taking snaps of the 19th-century presidents in your textbook and putting a smiling poop emoji over their faces — and then your James Polk–worshiping teacher waited until you, the sole presidential snapper, were out of the room to pass it.

Now imagine that the vote was about something far more important, and you’ll have an idea of what Briggs Tople felt like when he learned that the South Dakota legislature was trying to lower the state’s minimum wage — but just for people under 18 years old. The minimum wage is on the ballot in five states this year, but this referendum is the only one that takes a step backward.

Some context: Back in 2014, South Dakota voters approved a ballot measure that raised the minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $8.50. Just one year later, the legislature passed a measure that pushed the minimum wage for minors back down to $7.50. Petitioners fought back, and the issue will be on the ballot again in November — but since the law only affects people under 18, who are below the legal voting age, its targets won’t get a say in whether it passes.

When the measure that raised the minimum wage passed two years ago, Tople was a happy Republican, volunteering with campaigns around his hometown of Aberdeen. He was also only 14. When he heard that legislators in the state capital were planning to roll back that advance in 2015, and only for people his age, he got angry, and started calling local Republicans. As far as he could see, the state representatives didn’t have a good answer for why the minimum wage should be lowered for teens.

Supporters of the lower minimum wage say they’re worried that an $8.50 law could prevent local businesses from hiring people under 18, and argue that a so-called “training wage” protects jobs for new workers. But Sylvia Allegretto, a research economist at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at University of California, Berkeley, just released a study that found raising the minimum wage had no effect on teenage job employment. “I don’t think there’s a really good reason to say you should take an entire group of workers and keep their wages below the lowest wage in the state,” Allegretto tells MTV News. The federal government also already has a time-limited youth minimum wage of $4.25, which can be used for the first 90 days of employment for workers under the age of 20 (though Allegretto says it’s unclear how many businesses or states actually use it).

Not all academics agree with Allegretto — as with every debate involving the minimum wage, there are plenty of people on both sides of the argument who say they have data that backs up their case. It is true that fewer teenagers are working these days than in past decades, but this is part of a broader, long-term trend. Researchers aren’t quite sure why it’s happening; it might be because more teenagers are now full-time students without time for a job, or that more young people are choosing to focus on internships or extracurricular activities instead of working. Even so, Allegretto notes, “Most minimum wage workers aren’t teens, but many teenagers are minimum wage workers.”

Yannet Lathrop at the National Employment Law Project believes that teenagers deserve the same minimum wage as all other workers. “They are buying their own clothes, or buying their own books for school, maybe buying their lunches,” she tells MTV News. “It’s not just to go get a sundae after the movie.”

Tople, now 16 and a registered Democrat, is currently joining with other students his age at Aberdeen Central High School to lobby local parents on the minimum wage ballot measure, since they can’t vote themselves. The same dynamic is in play in the debate over lowering the voting age to 16 — another battle that directly affects teens while denying them any official say. Two towns in Maryland let teenagers vote in local elections in 2014, but many other efforts have crashed and burned. One of the main arguments against lowering the voting age is the same one that was used during early efforts to lower the voting age to 18 before the ratification of the 26th Amendment in 1971. Decades earlier, in 1945, the New York Times wrote about a poll that showed 68 percent of school superintendents were “doubtful of wisdom of 18-year-olds.”

“A school official in Illinois was quoted as saying,” the paper reported, “that ‘it is unnecessary to saddle youths with this responsibility: they have enough to do as it is.’ Another superintendent commented that ‘the very reasons that make an 18-year-old a good soldier mentally keep him from being a conservative, sensible voter.’ Most of the educators stressed ‘immaturity and lack of expertise.’”

“There are a lot of stereotypes about teenagers in our culture,” Anne Sheridan at the National Youth Rights Association tells MTV News. “Not being engaged, being glued to their phones, just caring about very superficial things.”

Jessica Eng, a 17-year-old senior at Lowell High School in San Francisco, says she often hears similar arguments about students not being informed enough to vote when she is out canvassing for Proposition F, a ballot measure this November that would let teens vote in the city’s local and municipal elections. Some conversations make her hopeful, though. “I went into a house with a mother, and asked her, ‘Do you support this?’ and she called her children over and asked them. I thought that was so interesting,” Eng says, “that she was asking her children what they would do.”

Tople makes a similar argument when he’s out door-knocking for local Democratic candidates, sometimes bringing up the minimum wage measure. “When adults vote, they shouldn’t just care about things that directly affect them,” he says. “They should also care about what affects their kids.”

MTV News
October 18, 2016

Nonbinding referendum in Amherst, Pelham, Granby calls for lowering drinking age

Posted by on October 17th, 2016

Arguing that adults should be able to consume alcohol, a Washington, D.C., resident is responsible for a nonbinding referendum question on the Nov. 8 ballot in three towns that encourages the state Legislature to reduce the drinking age from 21 to 19.

“I’m for lowering it because I believe it’s age discrimination against adults,” said Matthew Malone, a former Massachusetts resident who previously worked with both the National Youth Rights Association, which supports reducing the drinking age, and the Choose Responsibility nonprofit, which has studied the effects of setting the drinking age at 21.

The question, which will be on the ballot in the 3rd Hampshire District comprising Amherst, Pelham and Precinct 1 in Granby, reads:

“Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to age 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”

Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who is expected to replace Ellen Story as the state representative for the district in January, said he is intrigued by the question, but he doesn’t expect filing such legislation to be a high priority of his.

Malone said part of his motivation in putting the question forward now is that states and communities are increasing the age for buying tobacco to 21, including in California, and that rights are being eroded for adults who can marry without parental consent at 18, and serve in the military at the same age.

The question was put on the ballot with 310 certified signatures, 307 of which were collected in Amherst in June and hand-delivered to the secretary of state’s satellite office in Springfield on July 26. The other three signatures were mailed in from Pelham residents.

Malone said he chose the 3rd Hampshire District because Senate President Stanley Rosenberg lives in Amherst and a large population of college students may be motivated to support the question, alongside the statewide ballot question that would allow recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts.

While his inclination is to not support lowering the drinking age in isolation, Goldstein-Rose said the proposal may have merit in that it would make what most college students are already doing legal, and could make it safer by lessening their consumption of hard alcohol.

“It may encourage college students to use beer or wine rather than liquor,” Goldstein-Rose said.

Malone understands that the federal government can punish states by withholding transportation money if they set the drinking age lower than 21, but he believes there is an opportunity to seek a trial waiver from this law. Other sates, including Vermont, have pursued similar legislation, he said.

Malone adds that he finds it compelling that in Quebec, the nearest Canadian province, the drinking age has been 18 since 1972. Setting the age at 19 would ensure that most high school students would not be able to purchase and drink alcohol legally.

Daily Hampshire Gazette
October 17, 2016

Jersey City council quashes boy’s dream of voting at 16

Posted by on February 11th, 2016

JERSEY CITY — 15-year-old Mahsiah Imes learned a few lessons about politics last night.

Lesson No. 1: you don’t always get what you want.

Imes, who had lobbied City Council members to lower the voting age for local races from 18 to 16, appeared before the council yesterday in hopes of watching it approve a measure that would have asked the state Legislature to investigate whether such a change was possible.

Instead, the teen watched as the council decisively voted down the resolution, by a vote of 7 to 2. Council members who voted in opposition said they admired Imes’ advocacy but weren’t ready to signal any support for 16- and 17-year olds voting.

“I do admire your tenacity,” said Councilwoman-at-large Joyce Watterman, before voting no. “I just don’t think this is the right time for this.”

“Man, I really love your advocacy,” said Councilman-at-large Daniel Rivera, another no vote. “I’m proud of you 100 percent.”

Watterman suggested Imes advocate for students to learn more about public policy and political science before they are given the right to vote sooner. It’s not clear whether Watterman believes those classes should be mandatory for adults of voting age.

The push to have younger teens voting is part of a nationwide movement, with advocates like the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) saying change would boost voter turnout and encourage children to be more civic-minded. Imes is president of NYRA’s Hudson County chapter.

15-year-old undeterred by JC Council against referring measure to lower voter age

Posted by on February 11th, 2016

Mahsiah Imes, a 15-year-old high school student, received recognition for his work encouraging his peers to have a voice in the political process at age 16, but the Jersey City Council still voted 7-2 against referring the measure to lower the voting age to State legislature.

Currently, Jersey City voting on all municipal, county, state and federal elections is restricted to Jersey City residents 18 years and older.

Imes, president of the Hudson County branch of the National Youth Rights Association, strongly believes that one way to increase voter participation is to decrease the age limit creating political interest earlier and instilling the importance and responsibilities of citizenship.

He also believes that at a rightful age of 16, most teenagers already have jobs and pay taxes. The elected mayor does financially affect them so they should have a right to get involved with local elections.

City council did vote 9-0 on recognizing Imes for his research on extending voting rights to those under 18 as well as the NYRA’s efforts at Hyattsville, MD and Takoma Park MD, two towns that has amended their voting age to 16.

Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro called Imes a “relentless advocate.”

“Keep up what you are doing here, it’s commendable. It’s good work. You got nine members of [the] city council buzzing and talking about the question on whether or not to reduce the voting age.”

Brooklyn Club Good Room Wants You to Feel the Bern

Posted by on January 27th, 2016

Political campaigning has found its way to the dance floor.

One of Brooklyn’s newest venues, Good Room, is hosting a fundraiser for Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders this Thursday. They’re calling the event “Berning Down The House,” a pun on a Talking Heads classic from their 1983 album Speaking in Tongues.

The event’s Facebook invite says the fundraiser “will bring together a variety of artists, musicians, and advocates who all believe that Bernie Sanders’ campaign represents real change in America; a departure from a society and government controlled by the financial elite.” On hand will be official petitions to get Sanders on the New York ballot, “Bernie-themed merchandise,” and voter registration forms.

The event follows a number of recent Bernie Sanders benefits in New York. In October, Ridgewood venue Trans Pecos held an event featuring sets from Jersey club artist UNiiQU3 and Milwaukee producer WebsterX, while earlier this January there was a two-night fundraiser at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, featuring American musician Cass McCombs, Brooklynite Frankie Cosmos, and New York DJ Tommie Sunshine.

Entry to Thursday’s event will be $10, with all funds raised going toward Sanders’ campaign. Explaining their specific motivations for putting on the fundraiser, Good Room has offered the following: “Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is 100% funded by individuals and labor unions,” they write. “To date, he has earned the most individual campaign donations of any presidential candidate in history. However, because his average campaign donation is approximately $25, the Sanders campaign needs all the help it can get to stay competitive in an election otherwise funded by some of the wealthiest individuals in the nation.”

Political organizers’ move to take the campaign to the club notably comes at a time when millennials have replaced baby boomers as the biggest generation in the electorate, finding both parties clamoring for their attention. Considering these circumstances, it’s not surprising that they would want to fundraise in a location that predominantly serves young people.

Alex Koroknay-Palicz, of the National Youth Rights Association, weighed in over the phone with THUMP: “I think [clubs getting involved in the political dialogue] certainly can help get young people more involved in politics, and connect with them in a way that doing an event at the fire station, the VFW, the Rotary Club, or the Elk Lodge might not.”

You can see the lineup of featured DJs below, which is set to include more names TBA. Good Room’s address is 98 Meserole Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11222, and doors will open at 8pm. See the Facebook event page here, and read more about Sanders’ platform here.

Nancy Whang (The Juan MacLean, LCD Soundsystem)
Sinkane (Ahmed Gallab, William Onyeabor Atomic Bomb! Band)
James Friedman
Rissa Garcia
Lily Ray
Mike Terra b2b Dave Turk
Ted Krisko
Tanja-Remove Hyphen
Chris Sanabria
Zachery Allan Starkey
Darby Jones
Andrew Hobold
Markie Gee
Becka Krikorian
Steve Graham
Todd Sines
Deadontheinternet b2b Adakazaam

January 27, 2016

NYRA’s mission centers on challenging age discrimination against young people, both in law and in attitudes and supporting the basic freedoms afforded to young Americans in the Bill of Rights.