US city considers lowering local voting age to 16
San Francisco city in the United States is considering lowering the local voting age to 16 from 18. In November, SF residents will vote on a measure to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to also cast their votes in local elections. Although a similar move had failed in 2016 (with 48% of the vote), local activists believe that the measure will be cleared this time.
SF could be first major city allowing 16-year-olds to vote
If the measure gets the green light in November, San Francisco would become the first major American city allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections, NBC News reported. Some smaller cities—such as Takoma Park, Maryland—already allow teenagers aged 16 and above to vote in local elections. Takoma Park officials said the move led to increased youth engagement and higher turnout.
'Proposition will help youth of color'
Crystal Chan—an organizer for Vote 16 SF who fought to get the measure on the ballot—told NBC, "I really think that Vote 16 will help the 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."
'16 better than 18 to establish voting habit'
Vote 16 SF's campaign manager Brandon Klugman added, "Research is clear on this, that voting is a habit. And 16 is a better time than 18 to establish that habit." Notably, there has also been some bipartisan support for lowering the voting age in Congress.
Congresswomen Grace Meng, Ayanna Pressley among those in support
US Rep. Grace Meng, D-Queens, has long pushed for lowering the voting age nationwide to 16. "I'm always inspired by our nation's youth who have demonstrated wisdom, maturity, and passion on issues like social justice, gun control, and climate change," Meng said. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., had last year introduced an amendment to HR 1 to lower the federal voting age to 16.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also supported lower voting age
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had also said in March 2019, "I think it's really important to capture kids when they're in high school, when they're interested in all of this, when they're learning about government, to be able to vote."
Critics say 16-year-olds are not informed enough to vote
However, critics argue that, at 16, teenagers are not mature or informed enough to cast ballots. Colorado College senior Nate Hochman, a Republican activist, said, "Sixteen-year-olds — they're sophomores, juniors in high school." "They're deeply impressionable. They're largely interested in learning what, you know, their friends are doing and appearing to be cool. And they're not capable of making completely rational decisions about voting."