Give 16-year-olds the vote [Letter]

September 21, 2014

On Sept. 17, 1787, the 55 delegates of the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting with one item on the agenda — signing the Constitution.

This November, under-18-year-olds will not be able to vote in congressional and state elections. Why? It's the law. Almost certainly, new strategies are needed to increase civic engagement in Maryland and even the United States. Is it time for a robust debate concerning lowering the voting age in Maryland to 16? Yes, Maryland should follow the lead of the City of Tacoma Park and give 16-year-olds the right to vote in state elections.

The Maryland State Board of Election reported statewide voter turnout was 74 percent for the 2012 General Election. By registration, 75.56 percent of Democrats voted, 77.76 percent of Republicans, 64.13 percent of Libertarians and 64.28 percent of those unaffiliated with a party.. Clearly, lowering the voting age to 16 isn't a partisan issue.

Maryland has an 88.5 percent high school graduation rate compared to the national rate of 85.7 percent. The average household income in Maryland is $72,999 compared to $53,046 nationally. If the vast majority of Maryland's 16-year-olds are on track to lead productive lives and contribute to society, why shouldn't they have more of a say in their future?

Mark M. Spradley, Chevy Chase

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