Newark will become first in the state to lower voting age to 16 for school board elections

Newark’s 16- and 17-year-olds will be allowed to vote in April’s school board election after city leaders voted unanimously in favor of a historic ordinance to lower the voting age.

The city will be the first in the state to lower the voting age to 16 for school board elections. The ordinance, sponsored by council president LaMonica McIver, stems from McIver’s desire to engage in civics as a 16-year-old after being inspired by her fifth grade teacher, Ras Baraka, who is now the mayor of Newark.

“I decided to run for an elected position because of those lessons my teacher taught me,” said McIver during a press conference following Wednesday’s council meeting.

Before the vote, state and community leaders, educators, and students spoke at the packed city council meeting about the importance of letting young people vote, while others highlighted their concerns during public comment, which ran about 90 minutes. Some residents commented on the importance of letting the city’s youth vote in “decisions that affect their day-to-day,” bringing back civics courses to the public schools, and engaging high school students with civic actions.

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