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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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MA municipalities aim to lower voting age for local elections

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Tuesday, April 30, 2024   

Cities and towns across Massachusetts hope to increase young voter turnout in local elections by lowering the voting age to sixteen or seventeen. Somerville, Northampton, Southborough and Concord are just a few of the municipalities which have attempted but failed to secure state approval.

State Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham, said allowing young people to vote on local matters helps ensure they'll keep voting throughout their lives.

"That voting power fosters a real sense of civic duty and does in fact encourage higher turnout rates among young adults," she said.

Opponents contend teenagers lack the ability or motivation to fully understand what's at stake in an election. But Rausch points to Takoma Park, Maryland, where the turnout rate for sixteen and seventeen-year olds exceeded that of any other age group for the first election in which they were allowed to vote.

Rausch is sponsoring legislation to allow Massachusetts' municipalities to lower their voting age for local elections without approval from the state legislature but it's been tabled for the session. She says it's just one of a few issues where home rule gets in the way of local autonomy. Still, she said young people are already engaged in local issues, often related to their schools, and many students hold jobs and pay local taxes.

"And they are active members of every community I represent, and they are both contributors to and beneficiaries of community and local government services," she continued.

Rausch added the effort is part of civics education, which was solidified as a centerpiece of K-12 education in Massachusetts in 2018, and which received a significant funding boost from the state legislature this past year.


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