“The Youth Vote is an amendment that will empower youth ages 16 and 17 by allowing us to vote in town elections, to serve on the town school board, and to serve on the representative town meeting in Brattleboro, Vermont. We as youth feel that we deserve a voice in local government because we are active members of this town and we are fully affected by town issues and policies. We drive cars, have jobs, pay taxes, and we have a big impact on movements all around the globe. We should have an impact at the polls.” – Rio Daims
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TV Coverage: Town Selectboard
Special Meeting on the Youth Vote Initiative
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TV Coverage: River Garden
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Click to read article.
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Editorial Letter: Youth Vote Needs Selectboard To Act
“In a time when political cynicism is at an all-time high, it is great to see young citizens active and engaged in their communities. James, Rio and others in the Youth Vote movement have been doing the hard work of knocking doors and gathering signatures in support of youth participation in their local town meeting. With the dedication, determination and commitment of this group I expect they will get the 400 signatures required to put the Youth Vote Amendment on the ballot and I am hopeful local citizens will support it when they vote. Engaging youth in local decisions is a great way to instill a commitment to their community, bring in new ideas and energy, and to recognize the value they add to the region.” – Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman
“any person who has completed the sixth grade… possesses sufficient literacy, comprehension, and intelligence to vote in any election.”
“(2) No person who demonstrates that he has successfully completed the sixth primary grade in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory… shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election…”
NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
Did you know that American citizens in Washington DC, which is equal in population to the state of Vermont, have no representation in Congress ?! And thousands of people who live in Vermont, have jobs and pay taxes can’t vote. They’re called “teenagers”. Our treatment of these people violates the principles of democracy.
Read essays from teenagers who support this cause:
Learn more… news, op-eds, letters-to-editors, and other resources.
THE YOUTH VOTE IS NOT A TOWN RESOLUTION.
Most people assume that the Youth Vote proposal is one of the familiar advisory resolutions and that it follows the same process. This will not be a town ordinance or town resolution. It is a charter amendment and follows a state statute, Section 2645, for requesting approval by the state legislature.
That’s why it’s fine to put the Youth Vote amendment on the ballot.
A charter is granted to a town by the state, and it is like a rental property. You can change it, but you have to get permission from the owner – the state.
Most people assume that the Youth Vote proposal is one of the familiar advisory resolutions and that it necessarily follows the same process. This will not be a town ordinance or town resolution. (So, Dillon’s rule does not apply.) It is a charter amendment and follows a state process requesting approval by the state legislature. Section 2645 of Vermont statutes that describes the amendment process was actually written by our attorney Paul Gillies (now retired).
That’s why it’s legal to put the Youth Vote amendment on the ballot.
A difference between an amendment and the state statutes is not a problem. That is what section 2645 is for. For example Vermont statutes provide that people can vote on petitioned resolutions any time of year. In 2011 Brattleboro proposed charter amendments to restrict petitions, and they were processed legally under section 2645. Now Brattleboro is the only town in Vermont where town government can censor petitions and people can’t vote on petitioned resolutions except one day per year. (Sad, but true. BCS is working to restore your rights.) The process of amending the charter is a process of asking the state to allow the town to change its charter.
DEMYSTIFYING THE YOUTH VOTE
The Vermont State Constitution — Chapter II, Section 42 — provides the basic right of those who reach the full age of 18 to vote in general and state elections and primaries. The section would prohibit a charter from setting a higher age for local elections, because the constitution is an expression of rights, limiting government from interfering with what it guarantees, but it cannot prohibit municipal charters (which are essentially state statutes) that provide rights to younger persons.
That’s why the state will approve the amendment.
The Youth Voter amendment will allow local youth to vote on town matters only, not in state or national elections. Otherwise Brattleboro would have more electoral power than other towns, which would be illegal.