Everyone who votes in today’s elections in Brattleboro will be at least 18 years old. But that could change if voters pass a ballot measure to extend the right to vote in town elections to 16- and 17-year-olds. Supporters say pushing the voting age down two years would improve voter turnout and bring the right to vote in line with other privileges, such as a driver’s license, at age 16. “It’s part of a way of enlivening the electorate here,” Kurt Daims, the Brattleboro resident who submitted the ballot item, said Monday. “We want to propose this as a way to make the younger people grow an attachment to their town.” Daims described restricting voting rights to people who are 18 and older as a violation of basic rights.
The measure would apply only to local decisions such as races for select board and school board, Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette L. Cappy said. If it passes in Brattleboro today, Vermont’s Legislature will have to vote to approve the measure and amend the state’s constitution to allow Brattleboro 16- and 17-year olds to vote, Cappy said.
Cappy said she has not heard much support for the amendment, and said some people have voiced their displeasure to the clerk’s office. “People just feel that it’s not appropriate, that a lot of 16-year-olds don’t really care what’s on the ballot,” she said Monday.
But the small group of Brattleboro residents working with Daims to support the measure, including Adrasteia Andrews, say the right to go to the ballot box may be more important than actual votes.