Although Calista Poulos isn’t sure if all of her 16 and 17-year-old peers would take the responsibility of voting seriously, she sure would. “Personally, I think every single vote matters,” …
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Although Calista Poulos isn’t sure if all of her 16 and 17-year-old peers would take the responsibility of voting seriously, she sure would.
“Personally, I think every single vote matters,” said Poulos who’s entering her junior year at Golden High School this year. “It’d be a nice opportunity to make a change in the community.”
In addition, Poulos said, allowing 16-and-17-year-olds to vote on local issues that directly affect them would prepare teens to take on the larger responsibility of voting in federal and state elections when they turn 18.
Golden City Council has begun discussion on lowering the voting age to 16 for municipal elections. If the proposed ordinance passes a city council vote, a special ballot question would be included on Golden residents’ state’s general election ballot. The council will have a public hearing and second reading of the proposed ordinance during its regular meeting on Aug. 23.
One important message that it would provide the youth with is that “we value their opinion,” said councilman Casey Brown during the city council meeting on Aug. 9.
In agreeance, councilwoman Saoirse Charis-Graves believes it would help youth become more engaged in their community, and in the process of democracy. She pointed to language in the staff memo: “Research shows that when youth are introduced to the voting process, they are more likely to become life-long voters.”
It’s important to remember that the youth would be voting on issues specific to Golden, and not state or federal issues, said councilman Paul Haseman.
For example, issues could concern city parks or other places they gather, electing city councilors for the districts and wards they live in and/or issues related to schools and education, said Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan.
“It’s issues in their hometown,” Sloan said, where they grew up. “I think this is a promising path to get (them) onto that pattern of voting.”
Enzo Perri, 17, of Golden describes his generation as outspoken, forward-thinking and progressive.
“If we could vote,” he said, it’d be a tool “we would use for positive change, rather than just relying on peaceful rallies and protests.”
Youth aren’t ignorant, he added, and they do care about their communities.
“It would be very cool to see this happen in my lifetime,” Perri said. “And to get to be a part of it.”
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