MARYLAND

Takoma Park lowers voting age to 16

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All councilmembers and the mayor are up for re-election in Takoma Park, and they’ll now have to answer to a new constituency.

“It’s a small place and we’re trying to make it possible for more people to part of our city government,” says Councilman Tim Male.

Councilman Male is one of six councilmembers who voted for the measure that passed, allowing 16 and 17 year olds, along with convicted felons who have served their time, to vote in city elections beginning this November.

“It’s not true for all 16 and 17 year olds, just as it isn’t true for all adults, but there is a significant set of them who are very engaged,” says Councilman Male.

At Takoma Bistro, a group of 18 year olds say they would have voted at age 16 if given a chance.

“If I had been voting when I was 16, I would have had two more years to be active in the community,” says Julianna Jimreivat.

“I think it’s a very politically active community,” says Lara Skibbie. “I certainly would have voted if I had the opportunity at 16.”

Inside the Magic Carpet, Deniz Kanter is not convinced.

“Sixteen is too young,” Kanter says. “Maybe some 16 year olds are more mature, but most of them are not mature enough yet to understand what’s going on.”

Kanter thinks convicted felons should be allowed to vote.

The only councilmember who voted against the measure told ABC7 he thought the issue was so serious that it should be placed on the ballot as a referendum.

The law passed 6 to 1 and will take effect in 50 days.

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