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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

MA municipalities aim to lower voting age for local elections

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Tuesday, April 30, 2024   

Cities and towns across Massachusetts hope to increase young voter turnout in local elections by lowering the voting age to sixteen or seventeen. Somerville, Northampton, Southborough and Concord are just a few of the municipalities which have attempted but failed to secure state approval.

State Sen. Becca Rausch, D-Needham, said allowing young people to vote on local matters helps ensure they'll keep voting throughout their lives.

"That voting power fosters a real sense of civic duty and does in fact encourage higher turnout rates among young adults," she said.

Opponents contend teenagers lack the ability or motivation to fully understand what's at stake in an election. But Rausch points to Takoma Park, Maryland, where the turnout rate for sixteen and seventeen-year olds exceeded that of any other age group for the first election in which they were allowed to vote.

Rausch is sponsoring legislation to allow Massachusetts' municipalities to lower their voting age for local elections without approval from the state legislature but it's been tabled for the session. She says it's just one of a few issues where home rule gets in the way of local autonomy. Still, she said young people are already engaged in local issues, often related to their schools, and many students hold jobs and pay local taxes.

"And they are active members of every community I represent, and they are both contributors to and beneficiaries of community and local government services," she continued.

Rausch added the effort is part of civics education, which was solidified as a centerpiece of K-12 education in Massachusetts in 2018, and which received a significant funding boost from the state legislature this past year.


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