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Iowa Mayors Take Pledge Initiated by Gun-Control Advocates

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Americans ages 18 to 29 have had the lowest voter turnout rate of any age group in every election since 1986. (
Americans ages 18 to 29 have had the lowest voter turnout rate of any age group in every election since 1986. (
October 5, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer understands that voting isn't ingrained in young people the way it is in older adults – that's why he signed a Mayor's Pledge to make voter registration as easy as possible.

Greer is one of several Iowa mayors supporting a nationwide initiative by the student-led group "March for Our Lives," encouraging voter turnout among millennials – in part, to help pass stricter gun laws.

March for Our Lives was organized by Parkland, Fla., school shooting survivors, after an incident that left 17 dead. The Mayor's Pledge commits to make it easier for young people to register, vote, and participate in democracy.

Greer says he also supports the movement's goal of curbing gun violence through legislative change.

"There are too many armor-piercing guns that are available for people, and whether they show up at a concert or at a school and start shooting people, I don't understand why they have those guns available," says Greer.

In addition to Greer, Iowa mayors in Mt. Vernon and Keosauqua have signed the pledge so far.

Millennials have the lowest voter turnout of any age group, with only about 46 percent casting ballots in the last presidential election. In Iowa, 36 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in 2016, compared with turnouts from 54 percent to 77 percent among older demographics.

Greer says Marshalltown has made an effort to encourage its young residents to vote, but more could be done. Because many young people don't own homes and some don't yet pay taxes, he thinks voting isn't second nature to them, and public officials could help change that.

He believes young people are poised to make a difference in the fall midterms.

"And I think it's making a difference, truly,” says Greer. “Look at the number of female candidates who we're seeing this year, locally and nationally. It's amazing how many more women are running for office, and I think that's a good thing."

The March for Our Lives has called on lawmakers to pass gun-control laws that would ban high-capacity magazines, require universal comprehensive background checks and provide better database technology for tracking guns.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA