Yesterday, voters in Rockville, Maryland rejected a ballot measure to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections.
“We are encouraged because community leaders serving on the city’s charter review commission saw an opportunity to advance pro-democracy reforms and took it ,” said Joanne Antoine, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “And while the voters ultimately decided not to approve many of the questions on the ballot this election, the city’s decision to explore innovative options from ranked choice voting to lowering the voting age indicates that residents want to move towards more inclusive city elections. With more public education, I believe they will in the near future.
“This is disappointing for the young people of Rockville, but we are hopeful that they will use their enthusiasm to remain civically engaged,” said Alyssa Canty, director of youth programs at Common Cause. “This measure may have failed, but the power of young people remains.”
Other localities in Maryland like Takoma Park, Hyattsville, Greenbelt, Riverdale Park, and Mount Rainier have passed initiatives to lower the voting age for local elections in recent years.
While voters chose not to approve the questions this election, Maryland continues to be a leader in the nationwide movement to give young people a voice in elections. From California to Massachusetts, many localities have passed or are in the process of advancing measures that give young people more options to participate in our elections. For more information on these efforts, visit Common Cause’s Alliance for Emerging Power.