As the nation prepares for the Democratic and Republican primaries, officially starting the 2020 presidential election, the voting age is taking center stage in political discussions.
There has been a long debate over whether citizens should be allowed to vote at sixteen, instead of eighteen, the federal minimum age. As of 2019, twenty- four states and the District of Columbia have allowed seventeen year olds to participate in primary elections, caucuses, and local elections.
Many politicians, including Massachusetts U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, have been supportive of lowering the federal voting age.
Mid-January of this year, the Joint Committee on Election Laws in the Massachusetts state legislature held a public hearing at the statehouse. Multiple bills were presented during the Wednesday, January 22nd hearing in support of bestowing voting rights to sixteen and seventeen year olds in Massachusetts. The bill would not universally lower the voting age across Massachusetts, but instead provide cities and towns the possibility to allow sixteen and seventeen year old residents to exercise the right to vote and to be placed on the registration for local elections.
Concord has previously explored letting sixteen and seventeen year olds vote in local elections, and one specific bill reviewed by the Joint Committee on Election Law looked at allowing sixteen year old Somerville residents the ability to vote.
This bill is still in the early processes of consideration in the Massachusetts Legislature, and further debate on the issue is sure to follow as the concept comes to the forefront of political conversations surrounding the 2020 presidential elections.