Voters in the city of Greenbelt approved an advisory referendum on extending local voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds at the city’s municipal election November 7. More than 53% of voters voted yes on the referendum question, showing yet again that lowering the voting age on the local level is a viable policy idea whose time has come.
Young people on the Greenbelt Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) have been advocating for this change since 2015, and took their message directly to voters in recent weeks by knocking on doors, distributing flyers, and making phone calls. Now, the seven member city council must pass a charter amendment to make the change official.
With the favorable referendum result, Greenbelt is poised to become the third Maryland city to make this change. Takoma Park and Hyattsville lowered their local voting ages in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and have seen positive results. In each city, 16- and 17-year-olds have turned out at higher rates than the overall electorate.
Prior to the advisory referendum, YAC secured support from the city’s Advisory Committee on Education and Community Relations Advisory Board.
Vote16USA is eager to continue working with local leaders in Greenbelt, and to partner with youth in other cities and states to move this forward across the country.
Click here for a PDF of a press release on the good news, and check Vote16USA.org for updates on this developing story, including youth perspectives.