Youth Vote Charter Amendment on the March 5th Town Ballot

On the March 5th Brattleboro town elections ballot, there will be a proposed town charter amendment.

The amendment would lower, to 16, the legal age for

— Voting on town issues and candidates,

— Being elected to and serving on school boards,

— Being elected to and serving in Representative Town Meeting.

The campaign’s Twitter feed is a running blog with all sorts of info, articles, studies, and more. Whether you have a Twitter account or not, you can see the blog/feed at The campaign website is, where you can find video of Brattleboro’s public hearings on the youth vote, news, and a guide to writing a letter to the editor on the issue.

The picture in this article is a screenshot of how the amendment will look on the March 5 ballot. If you are an enfranchised citizen – unlike 16 and 17 year olds who are paying taxes without representation – you can view your entire District’s ballot on Brattleboro’s town Elections web-page

Comments | 1

  • Why?

    Suppose for a moment we consider this a great idea, so much that we wish to expand it. Why stop at 16?

    15 year olds are as mature as 16 year olds, right? They should be included. And 14 year olds are pretty smart, so let’s include them, too.

    Should we draw the line at 13? 13 year olds can babysit and do lawn work and earn some money, and in some cases act as a second parent in single family households.

    How about a 12 year old? I’ve met some rather mature 12 year olds.

    Heck, I’ve met some 5 year olds with great ideas.


    So why do we have age limits for voting? Do we want a level of maturity? Bit of worldly experience? That might rule out the kids under 12. It might also rule out some 35 year olds.

    Do we want intelligence? Age doesn’t determine that, though the older one gets the potential to be more educated exists. (More time to learn!)

    Should we have a test – and skip ages altogether? Perhaps those that can’t explain how things works in town government should not be allowed to vote? (This brings up thoughts of voting tests for former slaves, of course…)

    Part of me thinks it would be no better or worse than right now to allow 16 year olds to vote. But that comes from a view that many voters, and representatives especially, aren’t up to speed on issues they are discussing and voting on. Reps require a cram session each year because they generally don’t pay close attention throughout the year. If grown ups need this, why not allow kids, too? Most adults aren’t demonstrating any special qualities that make them superior voters, other than age or wisdom of years.

    But that’s a pretty low standard. I’d prefer we work on getting a better town meeting system for Brattleboro. I’m not sure voting age is the problem. Peer pressure and last minute proposals at RTM that reps cannot bounce off of constituents seem to be more of an issue. Require people to get elected before voting is another problem, in my view.

    I still am undecided on this. What exactly would you, youth of Brattleboro, want to do with this new power? Is there an issue that’s bothered you, or that adults mishandled? How would you do things differently? I hear that you want the vote, and I have sympathy, but WHY?

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