SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Among the many intriguing local ballot measures presented to voters in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday are proposals in both San Francisco and Oakland to lower the voting age for local elections to 16-years-old.
If Proposition G is approved by voters, San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to allow voters as young as 16 to vote in municipal elections.
Across the Bay, Measure QQ would allow students as young as 16 years old to vote in Oakland Unified School District school board elections.
“Over the several decades I have had the opportunity to work with youth in San Francisco, I have seen that youth can and want to navigate complex issues,” said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee in a June statement in support of the measure. “Earlier this month (in June), 10,000 people joined a youth-led protest at Mission High School to demand justice for George Floyd and an end to the systemic oppression, racism, and injustices that the Black community and other communities of color continue to endure. There’s no question that young people are capable of changing the world for the better. Will we stand alongside them and let their voices be heard?”
Meanwhile in Oakland officials who supported the measure say it will allow students to have a greater voice in their education.
“The decisions that the school board makes have a direct impact on students,” said Bethany Meyer, spokeswoman for the Oakland Education Association.
Measure QQ would not allow any other changes to voter eligibility in Oakland. Passage of the measure requires a majority of voters to vote “yes.”
Among the statewide ballot measures is Prop 18 which would amend California’s Constitution to permit 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will turn 18 by the next general election.
In 2013, the Washington, DC suburb of Takoma Park, Maryland became the first U.S. city to lower the voting age to 16. Hyattsville, another DC suburb followed suit. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia now allow those who are 17 but will be 18 by the general election to vote in primaries. A handful of countries also allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.
Aside from establishing a lifelong habit of voting, research also shows young people voting makes their parents more likely to vote as well. Critics of lowering the voting age say 16- and 17-year-olds are not mature enough to vote, don’t have enough awareness of civics, history or politics, and don’t have enough life experiences. Conservatives also note that younger voters tend to lean toward more liberal causes.