And now for a youth rights historical edition of…
Here’s to You!!!
So I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to you, Takoma Park!”
I wondered when it would happen, when some American location would finally do it. NYRA and others have been campaigning for it for many years. Some campaigns came close or at least had promise, until they were stalled by technicalities or just plain fizzled out. For each one that did, another cropped up somewhere before long.
For a couple years now, it seemed the first would be Lowell, MA.
Until last night, when Takoma Park, MD, right in the county I live in, beat them to the punch!
First there was the hearing on April 8, attended by NYRAnians Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Bill Bystricky, Alexander Cohen, and me. All four of us went to the podium during the evening and spoke in favor of the proposal. Almost unheard of for youth rights proposals, most of the room was in favor! I was second to last to speak and urged Takoma Park to be on the right side of history, to be the first, to do what Austria, Brazil, Argentina, and other international locations have already done with success, what Berkeley, CA and New Haven, CT had already attempted, what Lowell, MA was currently attempting.
Then a week later on April 15 was the First Reading, when the city councilmembers themselves expressed their views of the proposal. All but one were in favor! Three even started off saying that at first they thought it was a stupid idea but after thinking about it some more, were now gung-ho for it! The one dissenting councilmember spouted a lot of typical “teens aren’t mature enough, I saw one once who wore saggy pants”. When he realized he was outnumbered he instead suggested the change come with a lot of other changes to include young citizens more. So proposal passed 6-1.
And then came the Second Reading, on May 13. The dissenting councilmember suggested the issue be put on the ballot rather than voted on by the council, and the mayor seconded. Uh oh. So the councilmembers each said their piece about this new proposal. It’s okay. It failed 2-5. And then back to the original proposal and some more councilmember remarks.
And the second and final vote to set it in officially.
Again… 6-1. Proposal passes.
That’s right. It’s official.
Takoma Park, MD has lowered the voting age to 16, the first in the United States.
This is real. I saw it happen. This is a thing that has actually happened. Just like that.
In Takoma Park’s city elections in November, there will be the first legal 16-year-old voters in the country!
And this is just the first, with many to follow. Lowell. And who knows where else? It’s not just a lot of failed campaigns and foreign examples. Here is a domestic success, an inspiration to all others in the country. The beginning of what will lead to larger cities lowering their voting ages, and counties, and then whole states. And the entire country.
May 13, 2013 – NEVER FORGET!