The city of Mount Rainier, MD has officially extended voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds for municipal elections, according to the Route 1 Reporter. The city, which is in Prince George’s County, is the 5th Maryland city to make this change, following the lead of Takoma Park, Hyattsville, Greenbelt, and Riverdale Park. The first city to make the change, Takoma Park, did so in 2013. The effects of the change have been positive. Not only have 16- and 17-year-olds turned out to vote at rates similar to or even higher than older voters, but local leaders have reported young people becoming more involved in local government.
Maryland state law empowers cities to make this change for their local elections through a city council vote. This is a more straightforward process for lowering the voting age than exists in most other states.
Mount Rainier has further cemented the state of Maryland’s place as a leader in the movement to lower the voting age, and the evidence on the effects of 16- and 17-year-old voting in the city will help inform other cities considering the reform as well.
Now, the only question is which city will be next to recognize the benefits of extending voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds for local elections.