That’s what Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D–Park Slope) hopes to create with his proposal to lower the voting age for local and statewide elections in New York from 18 to 17.
Carroll told Brooklyn Paper Radio hosts Gersh Kuntzman (largely supportive) and Vince DiMiceli (very dismissive) that the bill would dramatically improve voter engagement.
“Studies show that if you don’t vote before you’re 25, you’re likely to never vote, so this bill will help instill that value,” Carroll said, adding that turnout is high in Scotland and other nations where 17-year-olds have the franchise. “Our voter turnout is getting worse.”
Carroll said that 52 percent of eligible young people voted in the 1972 election — the first year 18-year-olds were guaranteed the vote nationwide thanks to the 26th Amendment — yet only 38 percent of youngsters voted in 2012.
Ever the razor sharp inquisitor, DiMiceli questioned whether 17-year-olds have the smarts to be entrusted with the vote.
“They’re going to make bad decisions,” DiMiceli said, perhaps recalling his own youthful indiscretion with a short-lived pierced ear.
“We let people make bad decisions at the polls — last year’s election proved that,” Carroll said. “But I believe that the more people who vote, the better outcome we will get.”
Kuntzman disagreed, given such obvious decline in civic engagement among the youth, which is why, he added, “newspapers are failing everywhere.”
“Young people want to be engaged, but the people in power, in the government or media are analog to them,” Carroll said. “They are Baby Boomers who are trying to keep the status quo. Young people think the system is completely broken.
“But expanding the franchise will, at least, expand voting,” he added. “New York has almost the lowest in turnout in the country and we have one of the most dysfunctional governments. That’s what happens when people don’t participate.”
The young lawmaker — Carroll is just 30 — chatted with Daily News columnist Kuntzman and Brooklyn Paper Editor DiMiceli as a busload of Brooklyn teenagers was headed to Albany on Tuesday to lobby legislators in support of Carroll’s bill. One of those teens, Eli Frankel, helped draft the proposal with Carroll and even started the Youth Progressive Policy Group, which is dedicated to the inevitable suggestion that this 16-year-old high-school kid is a lot smarter than Gersh Kuntzman.
Kuntzman admitted he wasn’t interested in the idea until his dermatologist called him out of the blue.
“And I had just gotten a mole removed so I was thinking, ‘This can’t be good news,’ ” Kuntzman said.
Turns out, the good doctor only wanted to hook up Kuntzman with his son, the 16-year-old progressive policy nerd, who had penned an op-ed for Kuntzman’s beloved New York Daily News supporting Carroll’s bill.
“And the kid’s first draft was great,” Kuntzman said. “Clearly, I will be working for him some day.”
If the 52-year-old Kuntman is not dead, of course.
In other Brooklyn Paper Radio news, Kuntzman touted his takedown of Working Mother magazine’s annual “50 Most Powerful Moms” list, which the Daily News columnist called “retrograde.”
And DiMiceli celebrated the great time he had watching the Mets win in the bottom of the ninth on Monday night, one day after Kuntzman had traveled to the same distant Queens stadium to watch his beloved Metsies get shut out and manage only one hit the entire day.
“And that proves that when Vince DiMiceli goes to a game, everyone has a great time, but when Gersh Kuntzman goes to a game, it’s just crap,” DiMiceli said.