Two Public Hearings on Youth Voting Rights for Municipal Elections April 4 at 3 and 6 p.m.
Council to review Mayor’s Request for Home Rule Petition to Grant Municipal Voting Rights to 16- and 17-Year-Olds
Members of the public are invited to attend and speak at two April 4 Public Hearings on a request from Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone to file a Home Rule Petition to the State Legislature requesting that 16- and 17-year-old Somerville citizens be granted legal voting rights for municipal elections.
The Legislative Matters Committee will hold hearings at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 4 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 92 Highland Avenue. Committee Chair and Ward 5 City Councilor Mark Niedergang said the 3 p.m. hearing is specifically so that Somerville High School and other local students and young people could attend at a convenient time, but both hearings are open to all members of the public. Written testimony will also be accepted, please see below.
If approved by the Council and by the State Legislature, the petition would grant 16- and 17-year-old Somerville residents who are U.S. citizens the right to vote in municipal elections (City and School Committee) and on municipal ballot questions. The right would not extend to State or Federal elections. If approved by the Council and the Legislature, it is expected that the change would not go into effect until the 2021 municipal elections at the earliest.
The proposed Home Rule Petition is based on the recommendation made by the Mayor’s Clean and Open Election Task Force, which was convened by Mayor Curtatone in 2018. The Task Force’s final report, which can be reviewed at http://www.somervillema.gov/ElectionsReport, includes 16 recommendations to increase voter participation, lower barriers to candidate participation, and increase the openness and transparency of the election process.
Mayor Curtatone recently submitted a second request to the City Council based on the Task Force’s recommendation that the City seek a home rule petition to grant municipal voting rights to non-citizens who would otherwise be eligible to vote. Committee Chair Niedergang expects to take up the request regarding non-citizens in the near future.
Written Testimony: Public testimony at public hearings is generally limited to two minutes per person and may be extended at the discretion of the Chair. Written testimony for the public record may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com through Friday, April 12, but Councilors will often read emails received after the official close of the public record.
More information: To review the proposed Home Rule Petition and video of prior discussion, visit http://ow.ly/Ad6P30o9Fkd. For background on the proposals and the Task Force recommendations, visit https://www.somervillema.gov/news/somerville-consider-expanding-municipal-voting-rights-teenagers-aged-16-and-17-and-non-citizens.
Somerville to Consider Expanding Municipal Voting Rights to Teenagers (Aged 16 and 17) and Non-Citizens | City of Somerville
A recently released report by the Somerville Clean and Open Elections Task Force includes 16 recommendations to increase voter participation, lower barriers to candidate participation, and increase the openness and transparency of the election process.
Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or NSalamoun@somervillema.gov.