Southborough Town Meeting lowers voting age to 17


Southborough Town Meeting lowers voting age to 17SOUTHBOROUGH – The 2024 Annual Town Meeting is likely to feature many younger faces.

Acting on a citizen’s petition, Southborough residents have voted overwhelmingly to lower the voting age from 18 to 17 for municipal elections and town meetings. The change must now be presented to the State Legislature, then governor, for approval as a home rule petition.

The citizen’s petition was presented by 18-year-old James Nichols-Worley, who is a student at St. Mark’s School. 

Nichols-Worley is a chairman of the Central Mass. Young Democrats, secretary of the Southborough Democratic Caucus and a Democratic State Committee member.

He was also, at age 17, selected to serve on Southborough’s St. Mark’s Street Park Working Group. This served, in part, as the impetus for his effort to lower the voting age in Southborough.

“[The] town moderator kindly let me attend two town meetings, as a guess, when I was 17,” he said. “At 17, I testified before the State Legislature. I’ve been involved in all sorts of political activity. Even under FEC regulations, I could make a donation to a political candidate. But I could not vote for selectman, Planning Board or any of the other elected positions in town.”

Nichols-Worley said he considers local government of highest importance and that the town could benefit from getting residents actively involved at a younger age.

“This isn’t training wheels for future civic participation,” he said. “This is, ‘How can we get young adults seriously involved in our community?’”

The article was not without some opposition. The Advisory Committee recommended 3-2 against the article. Committee member Tim Martel said there could be unintended consequences associated with lowering the voting age.

“Not only would they be able to vote, depending on how the bylaws are written, they would also be able to run for office,” he said. “If you are a registered voter, you can run for the Select Board or any board. That’s one of the reasons that drove our decision. We felt that this was not entirely appropriate, as much as we would like to encourage civic participation.”

But among those who rose to speak on the article, support was nearly unanimous. Among those supporters was 85-year-old John Thorburn.

“I have been deeply struck by the four or five young people here that are seeking to have this enacted,” said Thorburn. “They are the future of our community and our country. And like [another resident] said, if they’re old enough to die for us, they’re old enough to vote for us.”


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