National organization pushes for local law
The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) attended the Montgomery County Association for Student Council to present their request to enact a law that would lower the voting age in Takoma Park to sixteen in the city's local elections. Student governments from various schools in Montgomery County attended the general assembly. Most of the students supported the law, according to Alex Koroknay-Palicz, President and Executive Director of NYRA, a non-profit organization dedicated to the Youth Rights political movement.
Prior to the meeting, NYRA had been gathering signatures of citizens in support of the law to send to the Takoma Park City Council. Koroknay-Palicz said now that the Montgomery County elections have taken place this past November, his organization can push for the voting issue to be discussed on the Council's agenda. NYRA hopes the city clerk will soon add the voting issue to the Council's agenda, and if passed, the law would be enacted "late this year or early next year," said Koroknay-Palicz.
Maine, Texas, Florida, North Dakota, New York City, Hawaii, Alaska and the United Kingdom are all involved in lowering the voting age. In the Metropolitan area, D.C. has not yet considered such a law, but Baltimore has already passed one. (See related article.) Koroknay-Palicz said NYRA began its campaign for Takoma Park in May of this year, which was prior to Baltimore's pursuit of the idea. In fact, he said the group was founded in part to allow sixteen-year-old the chance to vote.
Koroknay-Palicz said changing the voting age would increase voter turnout and reward sixteen-year-olds, who he stated are thoughtful citizens who currently pay taxes but cannot vote. "If you include sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in the election, politicians will want to represent them," he said. In cities such as Baltimore, the government is "actually listening to students now whereas before, [the officials] never even thought about it."
NYRA asks everyone to become involved in spreading the word about the campaign. "We're looking to work with any kinds of groups in the area we can hook up with," said Koroknay-Palicz. He said changing the voting age has a higher likelihood of being enacted than all of the other youth rights campaigns in which his group has been involved. "This will be historic, and we have a chance to be a part of that. Any students who want to change the world, this is the way to do it."
Allison Elvove. Allison Elvove was a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2004-2005 school year. She wrote more than 70 articles while on the staff and supervised 40 student journalists, editing articles on a daily basis. During her time as editor, Silver Chips Online won the … More »