San Francisco is poised to become the first major U.S. city to consider a policy that would reduce the voting age to 16. Today, Supervisor John Avalos is expected to introduce a charter amendment that would change The City’s definition of voter to someone who is at least 16 years old. This would apply only to municipal elections and not state or federal elections. The proposal would allow “any person who is at least 16 years old, meets all the qualifications for voter registration in accordance with state law other than those provisions that address age, and is registered to vote with the Department of Elections” to vote on city ballot measures and candidates. However, voting for San Francisco Unified School District commissioners and City College of San Francisco trustees is excluded from the proposal because they are quasi state bodies.
Avalos said his proposal follows a resolution authored by San Francisco teenager Joshua Cardenas and passed by the Youth Commission in January urging Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors to explore lowering the voting age.
If approved by at least six supervisors, the charter amendment could then go before voters as early as Nov. 3. It would require simple majority approval to pass.
“Young people are engaged in change efforts and community development efforts…all over San Francisco,” Avalos said. “This is one other way they can be involved.”