A charter amendment to lower the voting age to 16 that will appear on the November ballot would put San Francisco at the forefront of expanding voting rights at a time when some other governments around the country have implemented increasingly restrictive voting laws. “Regardless of whether this measure is approved or not, (San Francisco) is starting a trend that will happen across the country, where cities like ours will consider whether young people can vote,” Supervisor John Avalos, who championed the measure, said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The measure would allow people as young as 16 to vote in city elections.
The board voted 9-2 to place the measure on the ballot, reflecting a change of heart by several supervisors who initially indicated they were opposed to the measure.
Some of them changed their minds after a hearing last week during which dozens of young people testified in support of the proposal, which is also unanimously supported by the San Francisco Board of Education. And they were swayed by the idea that lowering the voting age gets people involved in the electoral process earlier, which in turn could make them habitual voters — a step critical to improving the country’s low turnout rates.