In 2013, the Takoma Park became the first city in the nation to lower the voting age to 16. Since then, multiple movements advocating for lowering the voting age have started in cities across the country. One such city is Hyattsville of Prince George’s County not too far from Montgomery.
In the May 2013 Hyattsville City Elections, 943 people out of the city’s roughly 18,000 residents voted, a record low in recent times. As a result, Councilmember Patrick Pascall (Ward 3) proposed an amendment to the city code to lower the voting age to 16. Many people think this amendment will bring a new generation of enthusiastic youth voters to the polls. Others think differently.
Opponents of lowering the voting age say that 16 year olds are too young to vote and not mature enough to make an educated decision. However, others believe that lowering the voting age will encourage youths to repeatedly vote and thus, increase voter turnout in future elections.
With a major election coming up in May, a decline in voter turnout can result in elected officials not truly “representative” of the people of Hyattsville. To proponents of the amendment, lowering the voting age could be a critical step in the movement towards a truly democratic society.
Other cities near Hyattsville, such as Rockville and Gaithersburg, have been looking into lowering the voting age as well. However, there has not been as much success in those campaigns compared to Hyattsville.
The Hyattsville City Council will have a public hearing on January 5th, 2015 to gather feedback about lowering the voting age and plans to vote on the issue some time in late January. Hyattsville residents are encouraged to voice their perspectives.
Article by the MoCo Student Staff Writer Omisa Jinsi of Churchill High School