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You can call teenagers lots of things, but you can’t accuse those in Takoma Park of being civic slackers.
Turnout among 16- and 17-year-olds in Tuesday’s election for mayor and Council members was four times higher than overall turnout, according to Jessie Carpenter, Takoma Park’s City Clerk. The election was the first time in history that the franchise had been extended to residents under the age of 18.
Of the 134 16- and 17-year-olds that registered to vote on Tuesday, 59 actually cast ballots, a turnout of 44 percent. For the overall voting populace of 11,300, though, turnout was significantly lower, only reaching 11 percent.
In May, the Takoma Park City Council lowered the age for voting in local elections to 16, making it the first place in the country to allow people under the age of 18 to vote. Supporters of the measure said that lowering the voting age would attract more people to participate in local elections, as well as help encourage a life-long habit of casting ballots in municipal races, which tend to be low-turnout affairs.
While the presence of 16- and 17-year-olds was a big change for Takoma Park, the actual results of the elections weren’t: incumbents won every contest, and only one—the mayor’s race—featured a challenger.