Massachusetts Bill Would Allow 16-Year-Olds To Vote In Municipal Elections

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Should 16-year-olds have the right to vote?

At least two Massachusetts state legislators support the idea. State Representatives Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Jack Patrick Lewis (D-Framingham) filed “An Act Relative To Age requirements In Local Elections” (H.686), which would amend the state’s voting age requirement. 

The bill would allow 16-year-olds to vote in municipal elections while maintaining the 18-year-old voting age requirement for state and federal elections.

Here is the exact text of the bill:


Every citizen sixteen years of age or older who is a resident in the city or town where he or she claims the right to vote at the time he or she registers, and who has complied with the requirements of this chapter, may have his or her name entered on the list of voters in such city or town, and may vote therein in any election for officers in such city or town.


Garballey thinks that allowing younger people to vote will improve democratic participation for generations to come. 

“With the voting age at 18, that is a very busy time in a young person’s life, during election season, they are probably just starting college and they may not have the time to register to vote for the first time,” Garballey told Wicked Local in 2019. “If they are a sophomore or junior in high school and they are learning about the government process, I think they are likely to vote for the first time and that will lead to them voting consistently in the future.”

When asked whether or not 16- and 17-year-olds should have voting rights, Americans overwhelmingly rejected the idea in a 2019 poll conducted by The Hill. It found that 84 percent opposed letting 16-year-olds vote while 16 percent supported it. For 17-year-olds, there was more support. Although 75 percent rejected the idea, 25 percent supported it.

Younger voters tend to vote Democratic at a higher rate than their elder peers. CNBC’s exit poll from the 2020 presidential election showed that 65 percent of voters in the 18 to 24 range voted for President Joe Biden while just 31 percent voted for former President Donald Trump.

The bill has been referred to the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws. No further action has been taken on it.

Garballey and Lewis could not be reached for comment on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. 


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