On May 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave the green light on a charter amendment to extend voting rights to 16-year-olds in local elections, including School Board candidates. The three-hour hearing was remarkable for many reasons.
- First time the SF Board of Supervisors held a joint session with the SF Youth Commission, established over 20 years ago, that initiated this suffrage proposal.
- Nearly 100 statements for #Vote16SF were presented by incredibly diverse supporters offering a range of compelling arguments.
- Even opponents, including the Board President, declared the turnout and testimony won her over.
The marathon hearing on #Vote16SF begins at 3:06. To encourage you to watch, here is a sampling of some of the issues raised that are not verbatim excerpts. Cue the video to the time noted, listen, get inspired and spread the word about this history-in-the-making ballot initiative.
3:18 SF Youth Commission presents key arguments including lowest voter turnout in neighborhoods with highest number of children and youth
3:22 “Trickle up” youth get their parents to vote
3:26 Board of Education reports on its unanimous vote
4:07 Age is not always the best proxy
4:20 One-third of students attend private school which is why Vote16SF is not limited to Board of Education but includes Mayor, Board of Supervisors
4:30 Simulated exercises and debates that really have no effect on anything
4:31 As a child of an incarcerated adult, my dad doesn’t have the right to vote…I would love to vote on issues that effect my family
4:32 I would like to vote because I’m afraid I might not live long enough to vote when I’m supposed to
4:34 I raised myself but I’m not old enough to vote…We are ready to vote
4:39 Is the extra spending on the ballots worth more than the youth in our community?
4:40 Youth Commission resolutions about police, transit, transitional housing, etc. written by 16 and 17 year olds…close the knowledge gap
4:42 Two cities have modernized the voting age to 16 [Takoma Park and Hyattsville, Maryland]. There was a lot of opposition, some adults terrified. Now these communities would never chose to go back. Teenagers take more pride in their city…In both cities voter turnout among voters under 18 is actually higher than those over 18…we are absolutely a better community for it.
4:46 As a librarian, I have witnessed firsthand teens make positive changes…youth voice is critical to creating relevant services for youth
4:52 As a teacher, we know students are on the frontlines—homelessness, violence, bullied—they need a voice.
4:59 Paradigm shift… growing sentiment we need a healthier democracy
5:00 As an 11-year-old, there are lots of different opinions in middle school. People should be able to vote younger and maybe even younger than 16
5:02 The homeless and teenagers regarded with ‘disgust’ …Vote16SF can break this negative stereotype
5:14 Vote16SF is the solution to voter suppression and voter diversity
5:28 We need the youth because they are the heart and soul of this city
5:30 As community leaders, we need to create the conditions for young to be civically engaged
5:33 I’m part of the one third of SF immigrant community, I’m the only one in my household who can have a potential vote
5:45 Two years ago I was homeless and now I am in front of you…
5:47 Nearly half of registered voters do not vote…16 is actually the perfect age to begin to vote
5:55 A lot of Latino families who are undocumented are being displaced. If this ballot initiative had been passed, many of their children who were born here could have voted
5:57 My parents do not vote even though they are registered but since I’ve been advocating for so many issues, my mom will be voting for the first time
6:00 Beginning to vote at 16 will make habitual voters
6:17 [President of Board of Supervisors] I was adamantly opposed because when I was 16, you probably wouldn’t have even talked to me. To hear the testimony by each and everyone of you…we have tomorrow’s leaders showing up today making compelling arguments based on evidence, numbers, facts, taxes based on what we use to make policy decisions. I cannot see how I cannot support this ballot initiative for all voters to decide.
Visit Vote16SF for more background on this resolution that was first initiated in 2005 by the SF Youth Commission and click here youth suffrage efforts elsewhere in the U.S.