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First POST: The 16-Year-Old Vote

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 5 2013

The 16-Year-Old Vote

  • Here's a great way to increase voter turnout: lower the voting age to 16. Today, Takoma Park, Maryland becomes the first city in America where that is possible. Rob Richie of FairVote, who got the idea from Denmark, says there's evidence younger teens are more likely to vote than 18-year-olds because they're still connected to their community, while their older peers are moving away.

  • The White House is inviting developers who want an early look at the Write API for its "We the People" e-petition site. When the API is done, it will allow people to sign petitions via other platforms and be counted toward the signature threshold needed to earn an official White House response.

  • Speaking of which, since the last time we looked in August, a total of 233 petitions have met their thresholds, and the White House has responded to six more, for a total of 208 responded to, according to There are 25 still awaiting their official answer, and the average wait time for those has risen from 240 days to 309 days, an extra two months.

  • Among the unanswered petitions: two calls for labeling of genetically modified foods, and calls for the removal of prosecutors involved in the Aaron Swartz case.

In other news around the web:

  • Barton Gellman, Ashkan Soltani and Andrew Peterson dip deeper into the NSA Files to offer further proof that the agency has been tapping Google and Yahoo's private data networks, and to rebut statements made by various NSA officials denying their original story from last Wednesday's Washington Post.

  • In the face of pressure from the tech industry, which fears the NSA scandal will cost it billions in overseas business, the Obama administration is planning to reduce but not end the bulk collection of metadata, "including records of all telephone calls made inside the United States," The New York Times' David Sanger reports.

  • Citizen overhears former NSA director on a train; tweets what he hears. Former Homeland Security chief pens oped comparing citizens' use of social media to creating an "informant society" and trying to shift debate away from actions of government snoops. Citizen writes letter to the editor, demolishing the argument of former Homeland Security chief.

  • People submitting phone or paper applications for health care coverage to the new exchange are "stuck in the same queue" as people trying to register online, says an internal memo obtained by ABC News.

  • CBS News reports that "final, required top-to-bottom security tests never got done" before's launch.

  • Gigi Sohn, the longtime president and CEO of Public Knowledge, and one of its co-founders, is leaving to work for incoming FCC Chair Tom Wheeler as a special counsel for external affairs.

  • Wall Street Journal columnist Farhad Manjoo interrogates Balaji Srinivasan, the tech visionary who recently called for his ilk to build an "opt-in society, outside the US, run by technology," and says his "triumphalist tone needs to be kept in check."

  • "I wanted to like this book," says MacKenzie Bezos in her one-start review of Brad Stone's "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon." The review is on Amazon. The reviewer is Bezos' spouse. She points out numerous inaccuracies in the book, and adds, "I am grateful this is the era of the Internet, when characters in non-fiction can step out of books…and speak for themselves." The book is currently in Amazon's top 100.

  • The "Talking Transition" mystery site in New York City that New York magazine spotted should get resolved soon, given that today is Election Day, and someone new is going to be the city's Mayor-elect by 9pm tonight. We wonder who that could be. Go to TalkingTransitionNYC to find out more.

  • Tomorrow at 11:00am PT, I'll be on a live video roundtable with Douglas Rushkoff, Nicco Mele, Anna Galland and Pete Leyden, discussing "real-time movements for change," hosted by Details here.