At North Andover’s Annual Town meeting on May 19th, we urge the voters of North Andover to reject a proposal that would lower the town voting age to 16.
Such a move would not only harm the town, but it would also set a dangerous precedent for the rest of the state.
Sixteen and seventeen year olds, for the most part, simply do not shoulder the responsibilities, or possess the life experience and the investment in the community that is necessary to make informed and reasoned choices regarding issues that affect the legal and financial future of the town.
Children of this age are unable to enter into binding contracts, including rental agreements, leases, car loans or mortgages. Sixteen and seventeen year olds cannot obtain credit cards. They are unable to serve on juries, where their decisions could determine a person’s freedom or imprisonment.
These are only a few examples. These are all basic examples of the responsibilities of adulthood and citizenship.
If we believe that children of this age are not mature and responsible enough to shoulder these responsibilities, why would we entrust them with a vote which would not only affect them, but every citizen of the town as well?
Teens don’t pay property taxes in town, either directly or indirectly through rents, and are the consumers of the single largest line item in our town budget; our schools. Allowing them to vote on this budget without any fiscal repercussions to themselves is certainly a conflict. In local elections and town meetings that are usually decided by just a few hundred votes they could easily sway the outcome, with potentially dire fiscal ramifications for the town.
Our society did not choose 18 as the age where one is given the responsibility of voting arbitrarily. It was decided during the Vietnam War that if a person was old enough (18) to be drafted to the military to fight overseas, one was also old enough to carry the responsibility of electing those that could potentially send them to fight. This, the nation believes, is a reasonable line of demarcation between childhood and adulthood.
We urge the voters of North Andover to let common sense prevail and defeat this irresponsible measure.