Your Op-Ed piece in the NY Times yesterday (You're 16, etc) was wonderful! We appreciate and are excited by your giving voice to the importance of enfranchisement for youth. Here at Future Voters of America we have been working toward youth empowerment for the last 11 yrs and more recently have focused primarily on enfranchising 16 yr olds with a Vote. This has been through an Introductory Bill to the New York City Council to Lower the Voting Age to 16 in Local and Municipal elections and to changing existing State Public Service laws to permit 16 yr olds to sit on each of the 59 Community Boards in NYC, Youth Board membership and Educational Committee positions...all with voting privileges.
We hope that this idea would get some tread throughout the country if New York City could take the lead. Recently Austria has lowered the vote nationally to 16 and there are movements in France and England as well.
To the Editor:
Re "You're 16, You're Beautiful and You're a Voter" (Op-Ed Feb 6)
Enfranchising youth at 16 through the vote is a civic mission important to accomplish now. All research shows that in order to build an active citizen it is necessary to begin during the high school years when young people are attached to their schools, living at home with their parents and still residing in their communities. I agree with Anya Kamenetz on how important it is to tie the 16 year old vote to civic education. Arguments against lowering the voting age would be substantially lessened with civics training and we would grow a more conscious electorate and strengthen our democratic process.
In New York City there is a current intro bill in the City Council to lower the vote to 16 in local and municipal elections. There are also efforts being made to allow 16 year olds to have a vote on Community boards, Youth Boards and Educational Committees. This election does show clearly that young people want to be in the process but need the right vehicles to bring them on the scene. Enfranchisement of 16 year olds is the last "civil rights movement" in America.
New York, NY Feb.6, 2008
Ms. Baras is executive director of Future Voters of America
Ms. Graszik is an associate executive director of Future Voters of America