The Board of Supervisors will hold its first ever joint meeting with the Youth Commission next month to decide whether to seek voter support for lowering San Francisco’s voting age to 16 in local elections. Such a change would require an amendment to The City’s charter, which must be approved by voters. The May 3 meeting is significant for several reasons. Not only are the supervisors expected to have youth commission members sitting next to them during the meeting, but the proposal is part of a broader discussion in San Francisco about new methods to boost voter turnout, and support of the Vote16SF measure could signal a willingness to try other ideas. The City is already exploring switching to an open-source voting system, and a new city report examines other methods.
Voter turnout has mostly hovered at less than 60 percent in recent years, except for elections with a presidential race. In November 2013 and June 2014, voter turnout dropped to less than 30 percent.
The report suggests developing partnerships with technology companies like Facebook and Google “that hold major online presence and could mobilize their users to register and vote — particularly younger voters.”
The report, “What the City and County of San Francisco Can Do to Help Increase Voter Turnout,” is expected to be heard Friday by the Local Agency Formation Commission, on which sit several supervisors. The commission requested the report, which was drafted by LAFCO executive director Jason Fried and policy research intern Enrique Aguilar.