VOTING AT 16, RATHER THAN 18 – CREATES HABITUAL, LIFE-LONG VOTERS!
Studies show that younger, first-time voters are more likely to become habitual life-long voters. Cities across the country are considering this and Berkeley recently passed a similar measure allowing 16 and 17 year-olds the right to vote in School Board elections!
Voting is habitual, and 16 is a much better time than 18 to establish the habit of voting. At 18, people are in a state of transition that makes it less likely they will vote. At 16, young people can begin the practice of voting in a more stable environment, before leaving home and before leaving high school – where they are supported by family, peers, and teachers.
California currently allows 16 year-olds to pre-register to vote because early voter engagement boosts turnout.
Other cities who have already implemented Youth Vote, have seen a dramatic increase in turnout. In Takoma Park, Maryland, in 2013, voter turnout of 16 and 17 year olds was four times higher than overall voter turnout. This shows young people will turn out to vote in much higher numbers and often times become the catalyst to getting their parents and family members engaged.
16 AND 17-YEAR OLDS ARE ALREADY ENTRUSTED WITH ‘ADULT’ RESPONSIBILITIES
The state of California already recognizes that 16 year olds have the maturity, reasoning and comprehension skills to be granted new responsibilities, such as the ability to work, drive, and pay taxes on the income they earn.
Many OUSD students translate and interpret for their families, caretake for siblings, work, and engage in various forms of community service.
MEASURE QQ INCREASES ACCOUNTABILITY TO STUDENTS’ NEEDS.
Oakland students are the primary recipients of the services provided by the school district but have no say in how OUSD is run. Students have been advocating and organizing for improved schools and equity for years and their experiences, needs, and concerns should inform district policy and priorities of School Board members.
Voter turn-out in Oakland is lowest in the three districts that have the highest percentage of OUSD students. Half the students in our school district (or 51.3%) live in Districts 5, 6, and 7 – so Oakland Youth Vote would help boost overall voter turnout in East Oakland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on young people. Education has been interrupted and young people face an uncertain future in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis. Students deserve a say in the decisions about what schooling will look like for years to come.
Voting on issues that directly impact their lives – prepares students to participate in democracy. Lessons on civic engagement become real when paired with real-life opportunities to exercise political power and responsibility.
The majority of our School Board already supports this measure and have stated in a letter to Council, “We will support the Superintendent and staff to provide the necessary education and support for these young voters.”
Youth under the age of 18 make vital contributions to society every day – leading with solutions and bold action on issues like global climate change, gun violence, and education.
From reinstating OUSD’s Free Supper program to protecting critical student services and standing with teachers on the picket lines – Oakland youth are making positive change! Oakland Youth Vote will give thousands more young people the opportunity to become engaged in improving their schools.