Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 7, 2015

Balk the vote?

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

An interesting topic that — if memory serves — a commenter here had a young relative in another state that was working on a similar effort: in San Francisco young leaders are attempting to lower the voting age in San Francisco, for local issues only, to 16.   From City Lab:

It was the historic Scottish vote that inspired then-Youth Commissioner Joshua Cardenas, now 18, to introduce a Youth Commission resolution calling for expanded voting rights in December 2014.

The San Francisco teens have mustered a number of persuasive arguments why they should have just as much right to part the voting-booth curtains as their 18-year-old siblings. They pay sales and income tax. They drive and park in the city. They are affected by funding decisions, sometimes more than adults. And they can be tried as adults in court.

But perhaps most persuasive is the idea that granting 16-year-olds the vote could have a positive impact on civic engagement beyond their demographic.

“My parents don’t vote—they were not even registered—so growing up, I’ve never gotten the chance to freely express myself or voice my opinions,” says Anna He, 16, the Youth Commissioner for District 6, which encompasses both the single-room occupancy dwellings of the Tenderloin and the tech industry palaces of South Beach.

Once He was appointed to the Youth Commission and began pushing the Vote16SF proposal, cracks appeared in the ice of her parents’ political indifference. Her mother has since registered to vote.

Personally I think it’s a fabulous idea and something that would work well in a Charter City like Alameda.  While the turnout tends to be better than other cities, it’s not as though our complete voting population of adults is all that tapped in local politics anyway.  And it’s not as though somehow the magical age of 18 is going to transform a person from uninformed at 17 to magically informed enough to cast a thoughtful vote.

But, more compelling, is that trickle up thing described by these youths when they become interested in politics which then gets their parents interested in voting.

The sad thing about the efforts of these kids is people dismissing their efforts and implying that they would just be an extra vote for their parents or other nonsense.  While I don’t have teenagers myself, I do remember being one and I can’t imagine that they would readily abdicate their vote when you can barely get them to take out the garbage.

Speaking of voting (or not voting) apparently there does not exist at the City a determination about whether or not Frank Matarrese, because he owns rental property somewhere on Bay Farm/Harbor Bay must recuse himself from any vote regarding the Packet Landing site.  So it will be interesting to see if he asks for one tonight or if he recuses himself anyway because it would provide political cover.


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