16- and 17-year-olds hit the polls in Takoma Park city elections Tuesday -- Gazette.Net


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The Takoma Park community center has seen a steady stream of voters Tuesday for city elections for Wards 1 to 6 and mayor, including newly eligible 16- and 17-year-olds. As of late Tuesday afternoon, 827 residents had voted.

All the candidates on the ballot are incumbent councilmembers, except for Eric Mendoza, whose name remains on the ballot although he dropped out of the race for Ward 4 last week.

Mayor Bruce Williams faces last-minute, write-in opponent Elizabeth Wallace, who launched her campaign Friday.

Barring an upset by write-in or Mendoza, current councilmembers and mayor will keep their seats.

This is the first city election in which 16- and 17-year-olds are allowed to vote and young faces were making a good showing Tuesday afternoon. Many registered on election day just prior to voting. City Clerk Jessie Carpenter estimated that around 120 16- and 17-year-olds had registered.

A group of four 16-year-old friends who form the band Laddle Fight came to the poll together Tuesday afternoon. They’re juniors at the Sidwell Friends School, Georgetown Day School, and Montgomery Blair High School. Band member Michael Untereiner said that voting for the first time, “was pretty cool. I’m definitely happy that they expanded the voting ages. feel lucky to be one of the first 16-year-olds to vote in the country.”

Michael’s father Alan Untereiner accompanied his son to the community center. He said he wouldn’t have normally voted in an uncontested election, but, “I wanted to bring my 16-year-old down here.”

Another Laddle Fighter, Zeke Wapner, said a group of youth in the area had a Facebook group message in which they had been discussing when they were going to the polls.

Residents can still register and vote until the polls close at 8 p.m. tonight. Photo identification and proof of residence (can be provided by the same document) are required to register.

Preliminary results are expected to be available Tuesday night and will be finalized in a City Council meeting Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. On Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m., the mayor and councilmembers will be inaugurated into office. More information is available at takomaparkmd.gov.