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San Francisco Mulls Radical Voting-Age Change

San Francisco mulls lowering voting age to 16 in local elections
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2020 8:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some pre-18 teens in San Francisco may soon enjoy a perk that their counterparts across the nation don't: the right to vote. NBC News reports on Vote 16SF, a proposition appearing on November's ballot in the city that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections if passed. The motion almost went through four years ago, when 48% voted to approve it, and advocates are sure 2020 is the year it will happen. Supporters say by getting young people to the ballot box before they hit 18, it instills a voting habit that will hopefully carry over into their adult years—a move that would be "good for democracy on every level," says Brandon Klugman, campaign manager for Vote 16SF.

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The movement's website notes younger teens "are ready to vote," with the "necessary civic knowledge, skills, and cognitive ability" to do so; that local issues have just as much of an impact on them as on everyone else; and that it would strengthen students' civic education. Critics, however, say younger teens aren't mature enough or educated enough to have a say on Election Day, and that kids younger than 18 are "deeply impressionable," as one detractor tells NBC. Although San Francisco would be the first major US city to implement a lower voting age if the proposal passes, smaller cities have done so, with an uptick in youth engagement seen. There's also been interest on both sides of the aisle in Congress for doing the same nationwide, though not as much movement has taken place there. "I think it is worth having the discussion," GOP Rep. Michael Burgess said last year. (Read more San Francisco stories.)

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