San Francisco to Decide if 16-Year-Olds May Vote in Local Elections

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Maryjane Medina, 18, a first time voter, walks up to polling
Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

San Francisco residents will vote in November to determine if 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in local elections, NBC News reported Saturday.

“I really think that Vote 16 will help youth of color in San Francisco establish the habit of voting at an earlier age, and really provide them with the support and the resources that they need to continue building on that habit as they grow older,” said 18-year-old Vote 16 SF organizer Crystal Chan.

If the proposition is passed in November, San Francisco will be the first major U.S. city to give the age group the right to vote in local elections, according to the NBC report.

Vote 16 SF’s website said teens have a “stake in the game” and demanded local officials “treat them as equal constituents.”

The site continued:

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds are affected by local political issues as much as anyone. They also work without limits on hours, and pay taxes on their income, can drive, and in some cases are tried in adult courts. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds deserve the right to vote on issues that affect them on the local level. Further, voting is the most reliable way for ordinary citizens to influence the government. Lowering the voting age would make sure local politicians to listen to sixteen- and 17-year-olds and address their needs.

Lowering the voting age would allow students to “directly apply what they’re learning in the classroom in their communities [and] would add a crucial level of relevance to civics courses,” the site added.

However, Colorado College senior and Republican activist Nate Hochman told NBC he did not support the initiative because young people might not be able to recognize good governance.

“Sixteen-year-olds — they’re sophomores, juniors in high school like they’re deeply impressionable. They’re largely interested in learning what, you know, their friends are doing and appearing to be cool,” Hochman said.

“And they’re not capable of making completely rational decisions about voting. When are you an adult? When do we trust you to make your own decisions about who you are in the world and making your own way?” he added.

Despite concerns, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in March 2019 that the voting age should be lowered to 16, according to Breitbart News.

“I think it’s really important to capture kids when they are in high school when they are interested in all of this, when they are learning about government, to be able to vote,” she commented.

Pelosi’s comments were in defense of H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” which Republicans said would enable voter fraud and lean more favorably toward Democrats, the Breitbart News report said.


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