If the proposition passes, San Francisco would become the first large city to give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in local elections.
“I really think that Vote 16 will help youth of color in San Francisco establish the habit of voting at an earlier age…”
San Francisco residents will cast ballots in November to determine not just who should be in the White House but also whether 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in local elections.
A similar measure introduced in 2016 narrowly failed, with 48 percent of the vote, but local activists and organizers are confident that it will pass this time.
“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 Crystal Chan, 18, an organizer for Vote 16 SF who fought to get the measure on the ballot.
If the proposition passes, San Francisco would become the first major American city to give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in municipal elections. But the question remains: What would be improved by lowering the voting age by two years?
“Research is clear on this, that voting is a habit. And 16 is a better time than 18 to establish that habit,” said Brandon Klugman, Vote 16 SF’s campaign manager. “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 they’re eligible for and then to continue participating throughout their lives, which is good for democracy on every level.”
While the debate is getting renewed attention, some smaller cities have allowed people as young as 16 to vote in local elections for years — like Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, where city officials say they have seen positive results since its implementation in 2013, pointing to increased youth engagement and higher turnout.