Young Greenbelt Residents Left Unaware of Lowered Voting Age


Renee McNaughton, Staff Writer

For the past three years students 16 and older have had the opportunity to vote in local Greenbelt elections. This ruling became effective on February 27th, 2017. 16-17 year olds were officially allowed to vote in 2019.

The idea of lowering the voting age began in Hyattsville then being introduced to the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC). They persuaded the public in a nonbinding referendum (where the public votes but the final decision is up to the city) to vote towards lowering the voting age after educating them about how informed these young people really were.

Initially 77% of Greenbelt citizens were opposed to lowering the voting age in a community questionnaire. However, after proving to the public that teenagers were educated enough to make informed voting decisions, though their attention towards topics like Greenbelt police involvement with ICE and police accountability and training, the public changed their minds.

Maia Swisdak, who sent out an email to encourage students to register to vote on November 2, and Edward Sun, the co-president, expressed their opinions on the topic and enthusiastically advocated for people to vote. Edward Sun even said “…I Co-founded (and am currently Co-President) the ERHS Civics Society back in 2019 for this very purpose.” Maia said that she found it hard to encourage her friends to register to vote, however she highlighted its importance by saying “I think it was a good idea to lower the voting age because teenagers who don’t care aren’t affecting the election while those who do have the chance to participate in their democracy and gain experience and eagerness to continue from the effects they observe.” Neither people actually live in Greenbelt.

The lowering of the voting age wasn’t covered by several news sources and treated as unimportant. The articles that did cover this topic were very brief and gave very little information. The only local news source that covered this topic was WTOP and Fox5DC. However, giving 16 and 17 year-olds a voice in even city elections is a very big and important step for America.