I think there will be some dancing in Nurse’s Hall at the State House on June 28th when the Teens from United Teen Equality Center come to ask all 200 members of the Massachusetts Legislature to pass their local option bill to allow 17 year olds to vote in municipal elections in Lowell.  They’ve worked real hard and won the support of local officials, fair election advocates as well as some national figures.

Here’s some News from the front :  Vote 17 in Lowell teen leaders were recently encouraged by the fact that the House also just passed a bill containing pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds — a complement to preregistration, we see the opportunity of launching a pilot initiative in Lowell to lower the voting age in municipal elections to 17 as a similar and complementary next best step.
The Lowell City Councilor who originally motioned for the city to act on our interest is on board and our Mayor, Patrick Murphy is eager to see this bill passed in an effort to improve our city’s voting culture. At the statehouse, it was passed favorably out of the Joint Committee on Election Laws and now sits in 3rd Reading. Recently, the Chair of 3rd Reading, Rep. O’Day, has expressed public support and interest in helping it move forward.

As you may know, last Fall, the Secretary of State expressed concerns about the bill’s constitutionality. Fortunately, due to the work of youth organizers, they have received opinions from Professor Laurence Tribe, Lowell’s City Solicitor, and from a Voting Rights attorney from the Brennan Center in New York City. who all agree that our bill is fully constitutional.

In fact, over the past month, we have been working with Lowell’s City Solicitor and the Secretary of State’s Office around some new language that addresses prior concerns) and we look forward to working with him and House and Senate Leadership to soon move Lowell’s home-rule petition forward so that it can be decided by the city voters in November 2013.

Lowell has been hailed by researchers from CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) as an ideal location to pilot a lowered voting age to increase voter turnout, create lifelong voters and to increase youth voice in local affairs which directly affect them. The teens have received formal endorsements from Neighbor 2 Neighbor Massachusetts, SEIU 615, IBEW 2321, MassVOTE, Demos, ONE Massachusetts, Massachusetts Policy and Organizing Leadership Academy, Young Democrats of Massachusetts, The League of Young Voters and the National Youth Rights Association with support from the League of Women Voters and DoSomething.org.