California City To Decide On Lowering Voting Age For Certain Elections

California City To Decide On Lowering Voting Age For Certain Elections

A city in California is deciding whether or not to allow sixteen-year-olds to vote in local elections in a ballot measure on Election Day. 

Culver City, California, residents are able to decide on a ballot measure on November 8, called Measure VY. The measure would potentially allow sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds to vote in city and school board elections. If voters greenlight the proposal, the measure would stay in effect until they decide to get rid of it. 

If approved, the measure would not immediately go into effect, but it would instead allow for the City Council and the School Board to decide if certain conditions in the proposal are reached, including making sure that systems would be able to add the teenagers. 

In Maryland, there are already six locations that allow sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds to vote in certain elections, and San Francisco attempted to make the change in 2020, according to the Los Angeles Times. During that election cycle, 49.2% of San Francisco voters were in favor of a similar proposal to the one facing Culver City, but it didn’t reach the cutoff needed.

Maryland law permits cities to bring down the voting age requirement by way of city council vote. Five municipalities have taken the action, according to Vote16USA. Activists in several other states are pushing to lower the voting age, as well.

Berkeley, California, was the first city in the Golden State to greenlight a similar proposal for school board races, and Oakland, California, did so four years after. However, Alameda County hasn’t put the measure in place because of setbacks in its ability to provide resources for the younger people to cast their votes. 

While some young people are eager to start voting, others are concerned about the Culver City measure and what it would mean if implemented. 

Steven Gourley, a retired lawyer who has also served in public life in Culver City is speaking out against the proposal. 

“Virtually everyone I have approached does not know it’s on the ballot. When I tell them what it is, they say, ‘Sixteen, are they crazy?’” he told the Times in an interview. “I talk to people who’ve had teenagers and I talk to teachers who taught in the high school, and they say that these people are too young to vote.” 

He said it is a way for “so-called progressives” to try to make sure they keep a firm grasp on local elections over time. 

“They’re trying to expand the electorate so they can get reelected,” he said.

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