by Guy Page
The Vermont House of Representatives Thursday voted 102-42 along party lines to give initial approval to amending the Brattleboro Town Charter to allow youth voters ages 16-18 to vote in local town elections.
The youth voters would not be allowed to vote in federal, state, or school elections, because Brattleboro is part of a multi-town supervisory district.
The bill is sponsored by Brattleboro lawmakers Mollie Burke, Emilie Kornheiser, and Tristan Toleno. A House vote on final approval is scheduled for today. If approved as expected, it will go to the Senate. A Brattleboro resident, Sen. Becca Balint, is the Pro Tem a/k/a leader of the Senate.
Both the Vermont House and the US Congress have had bills introduced in recent years to allow 16-and-older voting. Vermont Rep. Peter Welch co-sponsored such a bill. A similar bill was introduced by a New York congressperson Feb. 4. Yesterday’s vote is the first known vote by a full body of the Legislature to affect any 16-year-old Vermont voters.
The only post-vote comment from the floor came from Rep. Jim McCullough (D-Williston): “By voting yes in support of Brattleboro’s Charter, I acknowledge and support Vermont’s youth and Vermont’s future.”