March organizer Simone Jacques speaks at a student-led rally at Mission High School commemorating George Floyd and those killed by police. The Board of Supervisors moved to place a measure on the ballot giving teens the right to vote in local elections against a backdrop of increased youth activism. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supes place measure on November ballot to lower voting age to 16

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to place on the November ballot a measure to allow those aged sixteen and seventeen to vote in local elections.

Voters rejected the measure in 2016, when it lost by 2.8 percent of the vote, but backers are optimistic it will pass this time around as youth have increasingly exhibited leadership on some of the most pressing issues facing the nation like climate change, police brutality and gun control.

Supporters of the measure, which includes the Youth Commission, argue that youth deserve the opportunity to vote on the policies and policymakers that impact their futures. They also argue it would increase voter turnout.

The City Controller’s Office estimates it would increase the total number of registered voters in San Francisco, of which there are about 504,000, by 1.5 percent.

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, who introduced the measure, said that “it is essential that young people build a habit of voting as early as possible.”

He pointed to recent youth led efforts for change, including the protest recently organized at Mission High School to call for justice for George Floyd. “There’s no question that young people are capable of changing the world for the better,” Yee said.

Youth Commissioner Sarah Cheung said that there are “so many teens out there leading their own movements and doing important work in their communities.”

“We need an accessible and effective outlet for teens to voice their opinions to the city,” Cheung said. “We need to expand voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds so that our city’s democracy can truly represent the people.”

PoliticsSan Francisco

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