Lowell Lecture

Expanding the Franchise: Under-18 Voting Rights

Date & Time

April 24, 2024 at 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.


Old South Meeting House
310 Washington Street Boston, MA 02108
Driving Directions


James Nichols-Worley was the lead petitioner for expanding the local voting age to 17 years old in his hometown of Southborough, Massachusetts. His town meeting article was successfully passed at the local level and was introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature in 2023 as Bill H.3874. Nichols-Worley is currently studying Economics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Katherine Silbaugh is a Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law and is widely recognized for her pioneering work on gender, family care, and household labor. She is a leader in the legal literature on the relationship between work and family. Her research highlights the economic and social value of work done within households; the complex relationship between families and institutions, such as employers and schools; and the inadequacy of the legal framework supporting care work. Her publications about the relationship between institutions and family address a range of legal systems from family law and employment law to urban planning and education law. She has intervened in policy matters of particular concern to LGBT individuals, including marriage equality litigation and anti-bullying law and policy.

Kelly Siegel-Stechler is a Senior Researcher at CIRCLE, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Her research is centered on civic development and political socialization in schools. She is primarily focused on projects that advance civic learning and development in K-12 education, as well as questions related to youth political and electoral engagement. Prior to joining CIRCLE, Kelly worked as a Research Fellow with the Institute for Education Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, where she supported their work on civic development as it relates to curriculum, instruction, and school culture.

Andy X. Vargas is the State Representative for the 3rd Essex District (Haverhill) in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He is a member of the Massachusetts Black & Latino Legislative Caucus and was previously elected to the Haverhill City Council, taking office at age 22 and serving as the city’s first Latino elected official. A firm believer in the power of education to empower youth, Vargas passed legislation to mandate civics education for all public school students, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.

James Eldridge has served as State Senator for the Middlesex and Worcester district since January 2009. Senator Eldridge previously served as State Representative for the 37th Middlesex district. He serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Vice Chair Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. As an activist legislator, Senator Eldridge proudly serves as the Senate Chair of the Criminal Justice Reform Caucus, the Medicare for All Caucus, and the Clean Energy Caucus.

Presenting Organization

Revolutionary Spaces


History Politics Youth Education


Amanda Bertone (abertone@revolutionaryspaces.org, 6177201713)

Voting is one of the most powerful ways to influence the trajectory of the nation. But those with the greatest stake in that future—the youth of America—lack access to the ballot under the age of 18. Join us on Wednesday, April 24 at Old South Meeting House to explore the pros and cons of extending voting rights to people under age 18, the current limit for federal elections.

Does youth participation in our democratic processes at an earlier age promote the agency of youth and lay the foundation for life-long civic engagement? Do young people lack the maturity to make complex voting decisions? Will a case built around the maturity of young people to make voting decisions undermine the protections afforded to them as minors?

We will explore these questions and more with a dynamic panel that includes a legal expert in the field of children’s rights, a leading electoral participation scholar, state legislators concerned with the issue of voting rights for young people, and a youth advocate who successfully passed a local measure extending voting rights to persons under age 18.

Expanding the Franchise: Under-18 Voting Rights is free and open to the public thanks to the generous support of The Lowell Institute. Doors will open at 5:30 pm and the program will begin at 6:00 pm. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Join us as we pave the way for the future, one empowered voice at a time!

DETAILS: Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Doors Open: 5:30 PM Program Begins: 6:00 PM Location: Old South Meeting House Admission: Free