MINORS ON THE MOVE

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Dozens of high school students from the local group Future Voters of America rallied at City Hall last Wednesday to promote legislation that would amplify their voices on local issues like education and housing. The bill, first introduced by Councilmember Gale Brewer last year, would extend municipal voting rights to the over 200,000 16- and 17 year-olds in New York City. At the rally, students met with their City Council representatives to show that they are mature enough to vote. Brewer hopes the bill will help mobilize young people, who turned out in dismal numbers for the 2004 presidential election. “If 16- and 17-year-olds start to vote, then they’ll become accustomed to it,” she said. Neal Rosenstein, government reform coordinator at the New York Public Interest Research Group called idea “intriguing,” but said his organization has yet to take an official stance on it. Brewer anticipates some opposition, noting that Councilmember James Oddo (R-Staten Island) has been its most vocal opponent. “We should not leave these decisions to kids who are still in high school, kids who may have yet to take a class in basic American government,” he wrote in a Daily News editorial last year. Anna Robinson-Sweet, a 17-year-old student activist who helped spearhead the campaign, said she wasn’t sure her Council member, Thomas White Jr., would support the bill. “He played devil’s advocate with us, asking us all sorts of questions,” she said. “But in the end he said ‘Okay, I’ll support it.’” The bill is co-sponsored by Council members Helen Foster, Letitia James, Miguel Martinez, Annabel Palma, Kendall Stewart, Albert Vann, Diana Reyna and Charles Barron. (J. E. Mendez) [3/27]