A San Francisco charter amendment that would ask voters whether to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections is one step closer to being placed on the November ballot after the Board of Supervisors’ Rules Committee approved it this week.
The committee on Monday unanimously approved the proposed measure following a hearing on the matter, and it is now set to go to the full board for a vote.
If approved by supervisors, the charter amendment, introduced by Board President Norman Yee, would be the second time voters are being asked whether teens 16 and older should participate in local elections.
Back in November 2016, Proposition F also sought to allow voters over 16, so long as they were U.S. citizens and registered to vote. Voters didn’t pass the measure, however, with 52 percent voting against it.
“We know that the issues we vote on as a city don’t just impact everyone 18 and older. They impact our young people also,” Yee said during the hearing. “Undeniably 16- and 17-year-olds are impacted by the decisions we all make at the ballot box, on education, transportation, housing, policing, and economic development. They deserve to have a say.”
The measure is being backed by the San Francisco Youth Commission, a body made up of 17 young people and tasked with advising the city on issues affecting youth.
“As I’m sure we all know, young people are currently mobilizing for Black Lives Matter,” Youth Commissioner Ariana Arana said. “It is very important for young people to have a democratic way to participate in their government and not have to take to the streets every time that there is an injustice and they are unheard.”
According to data from the commission, 16- and 17-year-old San Franciscans are predominantly people of color. Additionally, one in three San Francisco Unified School District students have at least one immigrant parent.
“From an equity perspective, it is crucial that 16- and 17-year-olds have the right to vote,” Commissioner Sarah Ginsburg said.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen called the vote to approve the charter amendment a “no brainer.”
She commended the commissioners for taking on leadership and inspiring their peers to get involved in civic issues.
“The power that you are taking for yourselves, because you understand the impact of the policies that are going to hit you the hardest … I could not be more impressed or more proud,” Ronen said.