16-Year-Olds May Soon Be Allowed To Vote in this Major US City
A young woman prepares to vote in the stock image above. (vesperstock / Shutterstock)
By Jack Davis
Published September 13, 2020 at 10:44am
House Speaker Nancy Pelosis home turf will decide this fall whether it will allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections.
San Francisco residents rejected a similar measure in 2016, but organizers of the initiative are hoping for success this time around.
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, 18- year-old Crystal Chan, who is part of Vote 16 SF, which pushed for the measure to be on Novembers ballot, told NBC News.
If the measure passes, San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections.
Voting at 16 is supported by Pelosi, who represents the city.
I think its really important to capture kids when theyre in high school, when theyre interested in all of this, when theyre learning about government, to be able to vote, she said in 2019.
One of Vote 16s leaders said the sooner people begin voting, the better it is for democracy.
Research is clear on this, that voting is a habit. And 16 is a better time than 18 to establish that habit, Brandon Klugman, Vote 16s campaign manager, told NBC.
Our motivation here first and foremost is to make sure that we put new voters in a position to establish that habit in the first election theyre eligible for, and then to continue participating throughout their lives which is good for democracy on every level, he said.
But Republican activist Nate Hochman, a college senior, said too few 16-year-olds understand exactly what good governance looks like.
Sixteen-year-olds theyre sophomores, juniors in high school like theyre deeply impressionable. Theyre largely interested in learning what, you know, their friends are doing and appearing to be cool, said Hochman, who attends Colorado College.
And theyre not capable of making completely rational decisions about voting, he told NBC.
Klugman, however, said that teens should have a voice in decisions that affect them.
Weve seen the concrete effects that local policy decisions make on the lives of young people really more clearly than ever as school boards and local officials figure out how theyre gonna reopen schools
how theyre going to make sure that young people have access to remote learning and the achievement gap doesnt widen, he said.
Many on Twitter said they think lowering the voting age would be a mistake:
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16 is way too young to vote. They need life experience. At 16 many of them have zits because their hormones are just starting up.