NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Volume 4, Issue 5

May 9, 2004


Voting Age Bill Passes Committee
Largest Recruiting Event in NYRA History
FEC Getting NYRA Advice on Minor Contributions
Ralph Nader Wants a Lower Voting Age
NYRA Participates in National Day of Silence
Chapter News
Event Schedule
News From the Web


Its been another great month. Three people with strong ties to NYRA successfully lobbied before members of the California State Senate. Over 500 new members were recruited, and NYRA is consulting the FEC on the best way to create a rule reflecting the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ban on minor contributions to political campaigns.

Voting Age Bill Passes Committee

The bill proposed by California State Senator John Vasconcellos, (D- San Jose) that will grant half of a vote to sixteen year olds, and one fourth of a vote to fourteen year olds, passed the Committee on Elections and Reappointment Wednesday May 5 on a 3-2 vote.

The hearing began with testimony from well known Youth Rights author and NYRA Advisor Mike Males. Dr. Males’ testimony went smoothly. NYRA President Alex Koroknay-Palicz testified after him, and although his testimony was thwarted by hostile politicians frequently interrupting and asking unrelated questions, he brought up a number of good points. He was removed from the panel too early, and opponents later brought up points he intended to address. A number of other supporters testified on behalf of the bill, including NYRA-Berkley President Robert Reynolds, who is currently producing a documentary on the voting age.

People opposed to the bill brought up possible logistics difficulties involving different ballo ts for people of different ages. These testimonies have generated some media coverage for NYRA in California.

Next the bill travels to the Constitutional Amendment Committee on May 16. Members are encouraged to write letters to the committee members and letters to the editor of their local newspapers.

Largest Recruiting Event in NYRA History

Between April 24th and 25th, NYRA recruited over 550 members. The bulk of the 550 recruits were found at the Pro-Choice rally in Washington DC, which was one of the largest US demonstrations in history, on the 24th NYRA recruited at Youth Pride Day and the anti-World Bank/IMF rally also in DC. NYRA also $170 in button sales. It is wonderful that this many individuals were recruited in such a short period of time. Also noteworthy is the fact that this was all done by six volunteers. Before the event took place, Alex Koroknay-Palicz was quoted as saying “We could recruit an infinite amount of new members, its just a matter of having enough people with clipboards.” Special thanks to all those who volunteered. Shortly after, NYRA-Los Angeles President Melissa Aaron recruited successfully at a Junior State of America conference in her area.

FEC Getting NYRA Advice on Minor Contributions

Without a vote, donating to political campaigns is one of the few ways for youth to take an active role in the political system. Recognizing this, the Supreme Court ruled recently to overturn a ban on campaign contributions from young people.

The FEC is taking advice from NYRA’s legal advisor, Keith Mandell who is taking on the project pro-bono. He has been preparing comments to send to the FEC, in order to insure that young people are given as much of a right to donate to campaigns as possible.

There are however, a few problems. Many young people do not have exclusive rights to their bank accounts, which could keep them from donating. Also, while there is no age limit, contributions have to be “knowing and voluntary”, and the FEC might set an age limit for when one can “knowingly” donate money. NYRA intends to shape the rules on this as much in favor of youth rights as possible. This is an excellent opportunity to make real change for the cause, and change that could set a positive precedent for future campaigns.

Ralph Nader Wants a Lower Voting Age

Consumer advocate and independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced recently that he supports the growing effort to lower the voting age. No matter how you may feel about Nader’s candidacy in general, this is a huge boost for Youth Rights. Nader has a core group of dedicated supporters, many of whom have probably visited NYRA’s website after seeing the links to it on votenader.org.

This is great publicity, and it is great that we now have an ally with such a great deal of notoriety. Ralph Nader had mentioned lowering the voting age in the past, and we are all glad that it has once again come to his attention. Ralph Nader can now be added to a very short list of household names in politics who support lowering the voting age. Among the reasons Nader cites for lowering the voting age are that young people pay taxes and are subject to the same laws as older people. He also feels that lowering the voting age would increase voter participation and reinvigorate our political system.

NYRA Participates in National Day of Silence

On Friday, April 22nd, activists across the country remained silent for the entire day to protest and recognize discrimination against GLBT individuals. Timothy Taycher, of NYRA’s Clark County Nevada chapter, decided to use this day as an opportunity to get the word out about ageism and youth rights. He wore an orange ribbon and a shirt that read “Help Fight Age Discrimination, Join the National Youth Rights Association.”

Many students participated in the event, sponsored The Gay-Straight Alliance at Mr. Taycher’s school. Several other participants noted Mr. Taychers’s shirt with interest, and gave him a thumbs up, because they couldn’t speak to him. The Day of Silence is an annual event organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Tim means no disrespect to those fighting homophobia, and only intended to expand the purpose of the day to include another form of discrimination rather than co-opt or steal the idea.

Chapter News

NYRA-LA is official now. Formed by area member Melissa Aaron, they have already tabled a Junior State of America Conference. If you are in this area, and you are interested in becoming an active part of the chapter, please email Melissa at dingbatess105 (at) hotmail.com.

NYRA-DC held a benefit concert at the Electric Maid on Friday. The show was a success, raking in over $120 for NYRA-DC, and an equal amount for The Electric Maid. On that same night, Alex Koroknay-Palicz and Dave Varney protested an ageist 7-11.

Event Schedule:

Keep an eye out for these upcoming events. All times Eastern Standard.
Board of Directors Meeting: Sunday, May 16th, 7pm in the chat room at youthrights.org
Constitutional Amendment Hearing for California voting age bill: Sunday, May 16th, 7pm
Youth Rights Chat: Tuesday, May 18th 9pm, AOL Instant Messenger.
Recruiting at HFStival in DC, May 22nd. (Volunteers Needed)
NYRA DC Meeting: June 5th, 3pm in the Cleveland Park Library.
International NYRA Meetup Day: June 5th, 3pm
Youth Rights Chat: Tuesday, June 7th 9pm, AOL Instant Messenger.

News From the Web

(NYRA articles in italics)

Teens tell state senators: Let us vote
Bill To Lower Voting Age To 14 Passes Senate Committee
Teenage voting rights proposed
School bans sack lunches, baked goods
Californians consider granting 14-year-olds the right to vote
NYRA Strives to Lower Voting Age
Student addresses legislators
NFL Blocks Young Players for their ‘Own Good’
City High students try to change area voting age
Should voting age fall to 16?
EU may reduce voting age to 16, meeting told
Girl beats school board, goes to prom
Drinking age debated
Committee moves to randomly drug-test high school athletes
ND: Girl heads to court over prom ban
Police chief sued over alleged paddling


In conclusion, depending on what happens with the Training Wheels for Citizenship bill, and the FEC comments, this month may be viewed in retrospect as the turning point. The point where the Youth Rights movement found itself over the hill and racing toward freedom, powered by its own momentum. However, to ensure that this happens, everyone needs to do their part. If you live in California, write letters to your local politicians, if you can- send us some money, or donate some of your time.