OPINION • BY CATHERINE TUNIS
On May 13, the City Council passed an amendment to the City Charter to make major changes to the voting requirements in the City.
The changes include: lowering the voting age to 16, reducing the residency requirements to 21 days, allowing convicted felons on probation or parole to vote, establishing early voting and same-day voter registration. Some people agree with all or some of these changes, other people disagree with them.
Many say that these changes are too big for the city council to decide, and that the amendment should be placed on the ballot. The last time such a change to the City voting requirements was made, it was decided by referendum on the ballot.
The City Council has also just announced that it is seeking volunteers to serve on a Task Force to research how to increase voter participation in City elections. So why the rush to enact these major changes to City elections BEFORE the Task Force studies the issues, makes recommendations, and the citizens have an opportunity to consider them? If the changes enacted in the Charter amendment are such a good idea, why not take the time to convince all the citizens of their worth?
A Petition to place the amendment on the ballot in November 2013 is circulating so that the voters can decide if the changes should be approved or rejected. According to the City Charter, if enough signatures of registered voters are received on the petition, the amendment will be placed on the ballot for referendum. Without a referendum, the changes will automatically become effective.
I urge you to sign the Petition or help collect signatures on the Petition. Join with hundreds of your neighbors and call for a referendum on these major issues. The deadline to sign is this weekend, June 22 and 23. Contact Catherine Tunis at email@example.com to see how you can sign.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catherine Tunis is a long-time Takoma Park resident, member and former chair of the city’s Committee on the Environment, and civic activist.