Mass. Lawmakers Consider Changes to Voting Age

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How young is too young to vote?

That's the question Massachusetts lawmakers are now grappling with after hearings on several bills that aim to expand voting rights to younger citizens.

"They deserve to have a voice on issues that will affect them for decades to come," said Sen. Harriette Chandler, who sponsored one of those bills that would let each municipality decide whether to allow teens as young as 16 vote in local elections.

"I do feel underrepresented because no one of our age is able to speak of political issues and being taken seriously, and I think that it's important that we can have that voice so people actually listen to us," said 16-year-old Haverhill High School student Maura Cuneo.

"I work at a skating rink and pay taxes but cannot vote," added 15-year-old Charlotte Rizzo of Brookline. "The state uses my money, but not my input. This is taxation without representation."

Another bill before the Joint Committee on Election Laws argues that voters who will be 18 on election day should be allowed to vote in the presidential primary, even if they're still 17 at the time.

"It's just us select few 17-year-olds that are born between March 3 and Nov. 3 that won't be able to vote in the primaries, and 24 states and Washington, D.C., already heave this law, so we're not trying to introduce anything new," said 17-year-old Samantha Bevins of Hingham.

These teens argued enfranchisement changes like these would increase voter turnout and engagement from a young age, when those habits are formed.

"Empowering the youth and empowering those young people will not only change the future, but will also be able to change the present," said 17-year-old Benjamin Simpson of Milton.

No final decisions were made Wednesday on any of these voting bills.

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