PRO & CONS – Prop F – November 8, 2016

PROPOSITION F- YOUTH VOTING IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

Charter Amendment

Placed on the ballot by a 9-2 vote of the Board of Supervisors

Requires a simple majority for passage

THE QUESTION:

Should the city of San Francisco amend the Charter to authorize 16- and 17-year olds to vote in municipal elections?

BACKGROUND:

The campaign for lowering the voting age for local elections began in 2014, and is run by young future voters. The San Francisco Youth Commission passed a resolution in January 2015 that urged the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors to lower the voting age to 16 years old. In March 2015, members of the Board of Supervisors proposed amending the City Charter to lower the voting age. The Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 to put the amendment on the ballot this November.

Currently, California state law allows people to pre-register to vote starting at age 16. Additionally, those who will be 18 at the time of the next election are eligible to register and vote in the next election.

THE PROPOSAL:

Proposition F would amend the City Charter to allow sixteen year olds who meet all other state law voter registration qualifications to register to vote with the San Francisco Department of Elections and vote in San Francisco municipal elections. If passed, these voters would be eligible to vote for local ballot measures and local officials, including the Board of Supervisors and the Governing Board of the Community College District. Voters under the age of eighteen would not be able to vote for state or federal officials or measures. The change would take effect in 2018.

A “YES” Vote Means: You want to amend the Charter to allow San Francisco residents who are 16 years old to be eligible to vote on local candidates and local ballot measures in municipal elections if they are also U.S. citizens, at least 16 years old and registered to vote.

A “NO” Vote Means: You do not want to make these amend the charter to allow 16 year old residents to be eligible to vote on local candidates and local ballot measures in municipal elections..

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF PROP F:

  • Lowering the voting age for local elections encourages voter participation and civic engagement, increasing investment in civic participation from a young age and leading to a lifetime of voting. This in turn is critical to improving alarmingly low voter turnout.
  • Youth voters would be able to vote on measures and officials affecting their lives and education, increasing community investment and connection.
  • People under the age of 18 are allowed to drive and also may be tried as adults in the criminal justice system. If you can be treated as an adult before the age of 18, you should also be able to vote.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST PROP F:

  • Lowering the voting age for local elections could cause some administrative challenges in creating special ballots and monitoring eligibility for state and federal elections.
  • The age restrictions for various rights and privileges—voting, enlisting, driving, purchasing tobacco—are inconsistent, and this proposition would create yet another inconsistency.
  • Voting should remain a privilege for adult citizens.

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