San Francisco measure would allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections

San Francisco measure would allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections
Posted at 12:19 PM, Sep 18, 2020

San Francisco may be the next U.S. city to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. Residents will vote on the matter this November.

If the measure is passed, the young people would be able to participate in local elections, which usually don't have high turnout.

“They've seen that by extending voting rights to people of that age, they've actually increased the level of interest and attention in local politics, not only in those who are newly able to vote, but among their parents and their communities as well,” said Brandon Klugman, Vote 16 Campaign Manager at Generation Citizen.

Critics question if teens are mature enough and educated enough to vote.

Researchers in Austria, where the national voting age starts at 16, found teens are not likely to be less educated or less motivated to participate in voting.

The campaign Vote 16 USA says teens are not likely to make rushed or stressed decisions when it comes to voting.

They say teens are more likely to be in a stable environment, where they're surrounded by family, peers, and educators.

“In a stable environment, it's great to establish the habit of voting, whereas at 18 on the other hand, most folks are in some sort of intense transition, whether that's joining the workforce, starting college, moving away from home, or going after some sort of transition,” said Klugman.

Advocates say this will help in creating a life-long habit of voting.

Oakland, California, is considering a similar measure, but it would only allow young voters to participate in school board elections.

Several cities in Massachusetts and Maryland have passed similar measures. Something like this was also considered in Washington D.C. but did not pass.