Teen voting back on town’s ballot
And matter of allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote to get another look.
By Sarah Franks
Staff Writer

Voters in the village of Yellow Springs will once again decide on charter amendments that would lower the voting age to 16 and allow non-U.S. citizens to vote — both only on village issues and races — as well as extend the mayor’s elected term from two to four years.

All three issues appeared under Issue 13 on the November ballot and were rejected with 52% voting “no,” according to the Greene County Board of Elections. This time around, the Yellow Springs village council members believe the issues might have a better chance of passing because they will be voted on as separate issues.

Issue 3 would amend the charter to allow the mayor “to be nominated for a term of four years, commencing with the November 2021 general election,” according to a sample ballot.

Issue 4 would make residents who are 16 years of age and older eligible to vote for Yellow Springs local issues and local candidates.

Issue 5 would allow residents of the village who are non-U.S. citizens to be eligible to vote for local issues and local candidates.

Some voters didn’t like that the issues were combined last year, said Brian Housh, president of Yellow Springs Council.

“So there was a request from citizens that we put the items back on the ballot as three separate items,” he said.

Housh, who works as the speech and debate coach for Yellow Springs High School and middle school, said he was disappointed when the issues were more controversial last fall than council predicted.

“In fact, our former village manager made the comment that she thought they were all no-brainer kind of issues, but we discovered that in fact, I guess everything has the potential to be controversial on some level,” Housh said.

Some criticism of the Issue 4 amendment, Housh said, especially among the village’s older residents, claimed 16- and 17-year-olds are too immature.

“Research shows when people vote earlier, they will develop that habit when they get older,” Housh said.

“Voting numbers show 18- to 25-year-olds generally aren’t participating.”

There is a national campaign to lower the voting age to 16.

Vote16USA.org serves as a hub for local campaign efforts and raising awareness of the initiative on a national level, according to the website.

“From council’s perspective, we’re fine with separating them out and putting them back on the ballot,”

Housh said. “I think that’s where it’s going to be interesting to see — Do they all pass? Do they all but (one) pass? Different people have different issues about all three.”

Contact this reporter at 937-225-2207 or email Sarah.Franks@cmg.com.