NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Volume 4, Issue 4

April 3, 2004


Huge Voting Age Coverage for NYRA
Foreign Voting Age Progress
Seventeen Year Old Accused of Voting
NYRA and Curtis Gans to Debate Voting Age
NYRA Holds Successful Youth Rights Chat
Volunteers Needed
Drinking Age Coverage
Media Page Created
Event Schedule
News From the Web


It has been another great month for the Youth Rights movement, both at home and abroad. In D.C., one man posting a few NYRA flyers about the drinking age led to NYRA appearances in three local newspapers. NYRA has also had a recent surge of media attention, culminating in Alex Koroknay-Palicz’s appearance on the mega-tron in Times Square. However, the most important progress is no doubt taking place in the United Kingdom, a nation which will probably see sixteen year olds voting within a year.

Huge Voting Age Coverage for NYRA

The last week has seen a huge amount of media attention for NYRA and the voting age issue. A bill proposed by California state senator John Vasconcellos (D- Santa Clara) would, if passed, give 16 year olds one half of a vote, and fourteen year olds one fourth of a vote. While this bill is by no means perfect, it is major progress for the Youth Rights movement. This bill, proposed one week after NYRA’s ground breaking voting age protest in Berkley CA, has led to a media frenzy the likes of which the Youth Rights movement has never seen. Articles on the voting age have appeared in several hundred newspapers, including the LA times and Christian Science Monitor. The bill was mentioned on CNN, the Tonight Show, the Daily Show, the BBC and on Friday March 12 NYRA’s president was interviewed by ABC news, a segment that appeared on the jumbotron in New York’s Times Square. The attention given by the media has led to a growth in membership, more traffic on the website, and far more awareness about youth rights.

Foreign Voting Age Progress

For some time now, The Votes at Sixteen Project, led by Alex Folkes, has been picking up some tremendous momentum. With the House of Lords, and a number of cabinet ministers supporting the campaign, it began to seem that there was a great deal of hope for British Youth, in terms of suffrage and civil rights. Recently however, there are strong indications that the Labour Party will endorse the campaign. This endorsement would be the equivalent of every Republican holding office in America coming out in favor of lowering the voting age to sixteen. Labour is also expected to decide that the age requirement for standing in national elections should be cut from 21 to 18. With the Labour Party currently in power, it looks like this will go through, and 16 and 17 year olds may be voting in the spring election.

With poor voter turnout among 18-24 year olds, Labour reasons this will reengage young people in the political process. NYRA believes that this is a chance for Young People to prove their competence and important role in society to the world. This is no doubt a watershed moment in the movement, and will lead to great things elsewhere. England has long been regarded as a trend setter in terms of Democratic ideas, and this will no doubt continue that legacy.

Seventeen Year Old Accused of Voting

A seventeen year old man named Mark Lacasse was arrested for voting in Londonderry, NH. He was voting for Bush in the GOP primary this past January. His eighteen year old classmates had been called to the gym to vote if they so wished, and Lacasse joined them and voted in place of his father. The event first came to light when he told his classmates. While if Mr. Lacasse had been only a few months older he would have been patted on the back by fulfilling his civic duty, but instead Mr. Lacasse could be slapped with a 2,000 dollar fine and one year in jail, because of his age.

Town elections moderator John Michels is treating this as a childish prank, and claims Lacasse did not understand what he was doing. However, Mark Lacasse is a well known local Republican activist, and had recently held a pro-Bush gathering in his home. Police plan to pursue the matter, claiming that a young person voting is a crime that goes to the very heart of our democracy. NYRA does not know the motives behind Lacasse’s actions, but is treating this as a serious political statement and act of civil disobedience until informed otherwise. Mark Lacasse was recently arrested, and could not be reached for comment.

NYRA Challenges Curtis Gans to Voting Age Debate

In response to his frequent criticism of proposals to lower the voting age, NYRA officially challenges Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate to a debate on the issue. In a Boston Globe article that NYRA appeared in on September 9, Curtis Gans had this to say about lowering the voting age “I think it’s a terminally dumb idea.” Once again, when NYRA appeared in a great article from AOL/ABCnews.com, “You’re dealing with people who don’t have any knowledge of or any stake in our democracy,” said Curtis Gans. A week later, when NYRA Board Member Kathleen Miller appeared on RNN TV, Mr. Gans was there to again call lowering the voting age a “terminally dumb idea.” Most recently, this month Curtis Gans makes an appearance, criticizing the “terminal dumbness” of lowering the voting age in California. Since Gans shows up everywhere NYRA does to call our ideas “terminally dumb”, NYRA publicly challenges Curtis Gans to a debate, any time, any place. If Mr. Gans can sustain a debate beyond his “terminally dumb” catch-phrase it promises to be an entertaining and educational debate.

Recently, Mr. Gans has accepted our offer, and NYRA is working on the specifics pertaining to a date and a venue. This should be an interesting event, and it will most likely raise awareness about the voting age.

NYRA Holds Successful Youth Rights Chat

In order to engage the membership, to offer a forum for members to offer suggestions and insight regarding NYRA, to network with other facets of the Youth Rights Movement, and to just kick back & get to know some new people, NYRA has begun to hold regular Youth Rights Chats. The first chat took place on March 16th. By all accounts it was a huge success, brining in twenty three participants who discussed Youth Rights and other topics for a considerable part of the evening. The next chat will be on April 5th, at 9 PM EST on AOL instant messenger. All members who wish to attend, send a message to “youthrights” or just go to the AIM chatroom “NYRA”.

NYRA Needs Volunteers

While NYRA is always in need of volunteers, it is especially important that we have your help on the weekend of April 24-25. On these days NYRA will be recruiting at two large events. NYRA President Alex Koroknay-Palicz was quoted as saying “We seriously need help, the only thing preventing us from signing up 5,000 people will be the number of clipboards, the number of pens, and the number of people passing them out.”

If you can attend either the Youth Pride Rally on the 24th, or the Pro Choice March on the 25th, (both in the DC area) please email us. Those individuals traveling great distances will be provided with food and a place to stay. Things like this are absolutely vital to our success, so if you can, please help out. Those of you who have not paid your dues could get a service membership for doing this.

Drinking Age Coverage

As a result of one man, NYRA member Dave Varney, posting some flyers around a campus in DC, NYRA and the drinking age were mentioned in a few college newspapers. This proves that something as small as distributing a few flyers can make a difference. No doubt politically conscious young people with a vested interest in the drinking age read those articles. If you want to distribute some flyers yourself, they can be found here “http://www.youthrights.org/flyers/”. You can put them on walls, car windshields, store front windows, or just hand them out. They are a great way to get the word out.

Media Page Created

Over the years, NYRA members have appeared in various media outlets to talk about Youth Rights issues. The page is a great reference tool. The number of media appearances is most impressive.The comprehensive list can be found here http://www.youthrights.org/media/. This list is being updated constantly, and is incomplete. If you see anything we missed, please email us.

Event Schedule:

Keep an eye out for these upcoming events. All times Eastern Standard.
Youth Rights Chat Monday April 5th, 9pm on AOL Instant Messenger.
NYRA DC Meeting: April 10th, 3pm in the Cleveland Park Library.
Board of Directors Meeting: Sunday, April 18th, 7pm in the chat room at youthrights.org
The release of the UK Electoral Commission’s voting age report, April 19th
Youth Rights Chat: Tuesday, April 20th 9pm, AOL Instant Messenger.
Youth Pride Rally, April 24th. (Volunteers Needed)
Pro Choice Rally, April 25th. (Volunteers Needed)
Committee Hearing on California Voting Age bill, May 5

News From the Web

(NYRA articles in italics)

NH Teen Arrested for Voting Illegally

Labour to back votes at 16 in UK

Warioba: Reduce voting age to 16 in Tanzania

Should 14-year-olds vote? OK, how about a quarter of a vote?

Giving New Meaning to ‘Youth Vote’

Proposal Seeks to Lower State Voting Age to 14

Selma Council discusses curfew

Campaign Aims to Lower Drinking Age

Students protest drinking age

Keg registration would make buyer responsible for minors’ alcohol consumption

New violence at youth jails causes alarm

Concern growing over youth piercings

Parents Liable for Kid’s Crimes

Assistant principal admits planting marijuana in student’s locker

Miami Juvenile Jail Official Told Dying Teen To ‘Suck It Up’

Young entrepreneurs told they’re too young for the toy industry


So much is going on now, that it is more important than ever to become involved. Young people are being arrested by exercising their birthrights, others are working hard to have their government respect those rights. Youth Rights is becoming more and more of a main stay in the news media, and is gaining national attention. I would not be surprised if sixteen year olds in America vote in the 2012 Presidential election.