The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Youth call for 16-year old vote in Northampton

The Northampton Mayor’s Youth Commission calls for lowering the voting age to 16 for all municipal elections.

The NMYC, along with at Large City Councilor William Dwight, is sponsoring a resolution calling on the Northampton City Council to petition the Massachusetts Legislature to allow sixteen and seventeen-year-old citizens to join the ranks of enfranchised voters for all municipal elections.

This action comes at a time when youth engagement in critical issues is rising and voter participation is declining. The local March for Our Lives demonstration on March 24th illustrated the desire of younger people to participate in our democracy and to have a say in how they are governed.

"As the issue of gun violence becomes more prevalent,” said Youth Commission Chair Margot Shocket-Greene (16), “the youth of America have realized that we must be the voice to push for gun control laws and advocate for our own lives.”

“In order to have a voice and be represented by our government and to make the necessary changes in our community, access to voting is essential so that the youth can be a part of bettering the community and country.” Schocket-Greene added, “I believe this could greatly improve both levels of voter turnout and political engagement"

Currently there are no communities in the Commonwealth that have been granted this authority although there are several towns and cities that are pursuing the right to lower their minimum voting age. Should the Legislature accept the petition the measure would likely be referred back to the citizens of Northampton as a ballot question.

“A democracy works best when participation is expanded,” Councilor William Dwight, liaison to the Youth Commission said, “and we have been led most recently more by the consciences of teenagers than self-identified adults. If we can retain the energy and commitment that they have displayed then we will all be better off for their involvement.”

The resolution will be on the agenda for the City Council meeting of April 19th at which time the Council may vote to approve the resolution in first reading or refer it to committee for further discussion.

“Our democracy is an ever-evolving experiment,” said Northampton Council President Ryan O’Donnell. “In fact, debating the fundamental rules of our democracy is an important democratic act in and of itself. I appreciate that that the Youth Commission has started this debate in Northampton.”

(Draft resolution included below)


Margot Schocket-Greene
Phone or text: 413 275-5679

Bill Dwight
Phone or text: 413 262-6710


A Resolution to Lower the Voting Age for Northampton Municipal Elections
Sponsored by the Northampton Mayor’s Youth Commission and Councilor William H. Dwight

WHEREAS, the right to vote is is elemental to democracy and that right should be protected and guaranteed to all qualified citizens, and

WHEREAS, sixteen and seventeen-year olds possess the same critical analytic intelligence as eighteen-year-olds, and

WHEREAS, In Massachusetts, sixteen-year-olds have been deemed able to consent to sexual intercourse, obtain a learner’s permit and driver’s license, get married with parental consent, work a full-time job and pay taxes, and

WHEREAS, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, Scotland, Switzerland lowered their voting age to 16 for municipal and, in some cases national elections, and studies show that the younger voters were no less informed than their older counterparts, and

WHEREAS, the largest portion of Northampton’s municipal budget is the school budget, and

WHEREAS most people voting in Northampton did not go through the modern Northampton Public School system, but most 16 year olds living in Northampton currently are in that school system, giving them an important and unique perspective on school issues, and

WHEREAS, studies have shown sixteen-year-olds have been the largest age demographic to closely follow certain votes, such as following the Scottish referendum to leave the United Kingdom, and

WHEREAS, early voter engagement increases civic participation later in life, which is vital to a
democracy, and

WHEREAS, Turnout among all voters in the United States is decreasing, and a push to vote is much needed for younger citizens, and

WHEREAS , younger citizens are demonstrating their desire to influence the government that serves them by demonstrating for sensible laws to prevent gun violence, and

WHEREAS, expanding suffrage to people who previously were not able to vote is good for
democracy by every measure, and

WHEREAS Massachusetts legislation has advanced a civic education requirement to promote critical thinking and citizen participation among younger people, and

WHEREAS 16 year olds may now pre-register to vote in Massachusetts, which may provide a logistical framework for their local participation.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the sponsors call upon the Northampton City Council to petition the Massachusetts Legislature to allow the City of Northampton to establish a minimum voting age for residents of Northampton of sixteen years for all municipal elections.

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