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Oakland Votes to Let Teens Cast Ballots in School Board Races, SF Defeats Similar Measure to Lower Voting Age

By Kevin Mahnken | November 4, 2020

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

Ballot measures to lower the voting age in California’s Bay Area went in separate directions on Election Night, according to local media. San Francisco Ballot Proposition G, which would have permitted 16-year-olds to participate in municipal elections, lost by a slim margin, while Oakland’s Measure QQ passed, allowing students the same age to cast ballots in local school board races.

Just over half of San Franciscans rejected Proposition G, the San Francisco Examiner reported overnight. That makes the margin of defeat even tighter than in 2016, when an identical proposal was voted down by 4 percent. A similar statewide referendum, Proposition 18, which might have enfranchised 17-year-olds in primary campaigns if they were due to turn 18 before the subsequent general election, lost by 10 points.

A win in San Francisco would have represented a significant milestone in the nationwide push to lower the voting age. Nearby Berkeley, California, already adopted such a measure, while several suburbs of Washington, D.C., have taken similar steps since 2013.

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The activists behind such campaigns, along with some political scientists, believe that encouraging high schoolers to participate in the democratic process could turn them into more engaged citizens later in life. Opponents (such as the San Francisco Chronicle, which advised its readers to vote against Proposition G) argued that it would be inconsistent with the higher minimum ages required to smoke or join the military.

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

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