San Francisco’s Close to Giving 16-Year-Olds Vote

San Francisco may become the first major American city to to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections, with residents deciding on the measure in November, NBC News reported on Sunday.

Activists are confident it will pass after a similar measure four years ago fell just short with 48% support.

“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, an organizer for Vote 16 SF who worked to get the measure on the ballot.

Vote 16 SF’s campaign manager Brandon Klugman added that “Research is clear on this, that voting is a habit. And 16 is a better time than 18 to establish that habit.”

Some smaller cities already allow citizens as young as 16 to vote in local elections, such as Takoma Park, Maryland, according to NBC. Officials there say they have seen positive results, such as bolstered youth engagement and higher turnout, since approving the measure seven years ago.

Although the idea has not been pushed as hard at the federal level, the movement does have mainstream support, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco. She stressed that “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.”

Those opposed to the motion say that 16-year-olds aren’t mature or informed enough to vote and that other age-related requirements in the United States are not at that age.

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