Not too many folks can say they were “the first” in their industry to do something, but Jessie Carpenter, clerk for Takoma Park, Maryland can wear that label with pride. In 2013, the City of Takoma Park — a Washington, D.C. suburb — gave 16- and 17-year olds the right to vote in local elections and Carpenter was there to conduct the first election. Since then, Takoma Park has been joined by Hyattsville, Maryland in allowing 16- and 17-year olds to vote, and legislators in San Francisco, Lowell, Massachusetts and the state of Missouri are also considering lowering the voting age. Back in Takoma Park, Carpenter said the transition was pretty seamless.
Because Maryland allows 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register, when Prince George’s County provides the city with the most updated voter rolls in advance of the election, the county simply includes the pre-registered 16- and 17-year olds on the eligible list and Carpenter goes from there. In the first election where they were eligible, 59 of the 134 registered 16- and 17-year olds — or 44 percent — turned out to vote.
“Overall voter turnout — for all ages — was just over 10 percent,” Carpenter said. “So you can see that the young people definitely came out in force.” Carpenter said the young voters who participated seemed genuinely proud to have been able to vote in their hometown.
And Takoma Park hasn’t stopped there. While Marylanders may pre-register to vote beginning at 16, in Takoma Park, voters may begin pre-registering at 15.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.