Update: It is now official. The city council members who were present January 8 voted unanimously to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections.
Tonight, January 8, the Greenbelt, MD City Council will vote on a charter amendment to officially allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections. This comes after an advisory referendum question on the ballot at the city’s November 2016 election resulted in 53 percent of voters supporting the change.
If the City Council approves the charter amendment, Greenbelt will 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.
Sixteen- and 17-year-olds in Berkeley, CA will also be allowed to vote in school board elections later this year. Voters approved a ballot measure to lower the voting age for school board elections in 2016, and the school district is now working to implement that change.
Young people on the Greenbelt Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) have been advocating for this change since 2015, and took their message directly to voters before the referendum by knocking on doors, distributing flyers, attending community forums, and making phone calls. Greenbelt’s Advisory Committee on Education and the city’s Community Relations Advisory Board have both expressed support for a lower local voting age.
Tonight’s city council meeting is at 8 p.m. EST at the Greenbelt Municipal Building, 5 Crescent Road
Greenbelt, MD 20770. The meeting will be live streamed.