MA town launches experiment to give 16 year olds the vote

This should be interesting. If the state gives its approval, the town of Brookline, Massachusetts will gain a lot of new voters in the future. At a town meeting last week, residents voted to extend the right to vote in municipal elections to 16 and 17-year-olds. The vote wasn’t even close either, with the measure passing by a two to one margin. The reasons given by supporters are a bit on the dodgy side, but we’ll get to that in a moment. (CBS Boston)

The town of Brookline is seeking approval from the state to lower the voting age to 16. The decision was approved by a 142 to 71 vote in a town meeting Thursday night.

“These elections directly impact these young people,” said board member Raul Fernandez, who is in favor of the idea. It would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections and make them eligible to become a town meeting member if they were registered.

“At the age of 16, they can start working and paying taxes on that work,” said Fernandez. “There’s no reason why these young people should not have a say in our politics and actually giving them a say in our politics will make us even better.”

Giving people the right to vote basically extends to them the honor and the privilege of joining in with the rest of the adults to make decisions affecting everyone. So it would appear that a solid majority of the residents of Brookline feel that you are old enough to be considered an adult at the age of sixteen.

You’ll note that the article quotes one of the members of the town’s municipal council named Raul Fernandez. His reason for supporting this initiative is that at the age of 16, these young people “can start working and paying taxes on that work.” That’s kind of mostly true if you don’t read the fine print too closely, but Mr. Fernandez misses the mark here badly.

First of all, under Massachusetts law, nobody under the age of 18 can work without a separate work permit for each job and it has to be filled out and signed by their parents. Kids with such permits can actually start working at 14, not 16, but they are restricted in how many hours per day and per week they can be employed. They are also limited as to how late their shifts can be.

But let’s not dwell on that. Are kids at the age of sixteen old enough to be considered adults? Not if you ask the state government. In fact, if you commit a crime, the state is currently looking at treating you as a juvenile until the age of 21.

Here are some other fun facts. As of this year, you can’t decide whether or not you should buy tobacco until you are 21. Similarly, you can’t buy a beer in the Bay State until you are 21. You can’t even get married until you’re 18 without the permission of either your parents or a judge.

But somehow, in the judgment of a majority of the people in Brookline, at 16 years of age, you’re old enough to make decisions about who your elected officials will be, what new laws should be passed and how best to collect and allocate tax money to keep the town running? This brings us back to a question I’ve wrestled with here before. At what age are you an adult? The government is perfectly willing to treat everyone like children when it suits their convenience. But if they want to make a statement and prove how woke they are, suddenly Greta Thunberg is a global climate ambassador and children of sixteen can vote.

I don’t know about the folks who attended that town meeting, but I can still remember being sixteen years old. I was convinced that I was old enough and wise enough to figure everything out and my parents were idiots. The funny thing is, the older I got, the smarter my parents appeared. If you want to let kids help run the entire world at 16 then just change the minimum age for everything across the board. The current system is a joke.