Measure to lower voting age to 16 is on the ropes in Culver City in early returns

A youth-led push for a ballot measure to lower the voting age will likely fail in Culver City after months of advocacy by both sides.

The ballot initiative, known as Measure VY, would allow Culver City residents as young as 16 to vote in municipal and school board elections. No other municipality in the country has presented such a proposal to voters during this election cycle.

As of Thursday evening, the latest numbers from the Los Angeles County Clerk-Recorder/County Clerk show 4,918 votes against the measure to 4,264 votes for, a ratio of about 54% to 46%.

Because the county hasn’t finished tabulating the ballots yet, the VY measure isn’t necessarily dead.

But Ada Meighan-Thiel, 17, said she recognized it didn’t look good for the poll measurement. She and a dedicated core team of fellow Culver City High School students spent months defending him. But she did not lose hope.

“We are waiting for other votes. … It’s hard to say whether those votes will be a little more progressive than the ones that have already been counted,” she said Wednesday. “Hopefully the margin will be a bit thinner by next time.”

City Clerk Jeremy Bocchino said Thursday that because the county coordinates all ballot counting, Culver City has no particular insight into outstanding ballots.

“It’s unclear how many more ballots will arrive,” Bocchino said, noting that mail-in ballots postmarked on Election Day are counted if received within seven days. “Your guess is as good as mine regarding the number of ballots still available and turnout. We have over 28,000 registered to vote and we don’t know how many actually turned out to vote. »

Even if the VY measure ultimately fails, Meighan-Thiel said the excitement and awareness among young Culver City residents around lowering the voting age — a movement often referred to as “Vote 16” — has made this effort a success.

“We still started a conversation about empowering teens, and I think that’s really valuable regardless of the outcome,” she said. “We recognize that political participation is not just about voting. It’s about being active in your community, and that’s exactly what we did during the election campaign.

Andrew Wilkes is director of policy and advocacy for Generation Citizen, a national, nonpartisan civic education organization that has provided support to supporters of Measure VY. He echoed Meighan-Thiel’s sentiments.

“If it happens as the trend line holds, reaching 46% is a historic achievement. I think it also represents the need and desire of young people to participate in our democracy,” he said.

“The movement continues to grow in interest and strength. … This lays the groundwork for the baton to be passed to high school students moving up.

In the United States, a small number of communities have implemented ballot measures to lower the voting age before voters over the past decade. Six municipalities in Maryland now allow people as young as 16 to vote in certain elections.

In California, Berkeley and Oakland approved the practice in 2016 and 2020, respectively, but Alameda County has yet to implement the change.

Proponents of Vote 16 argue that if 16- and 17-year-olds can work and pay taxes, they should have a say in politics. They cite research showing that 16-year-olds have adult-level cognitive abilities.

Opponents fear that people of this age are too naive and impressionable to make informed political decisions. They also worry that allowing young teens — who often lean left — to vote could disproportionately benefit more progressive candidates and causes.

But Meighan-Thiel said it was really about involving young people in the political process, empowering them to have their voices heard and developing lifelong voting habits at a young age.

“I know change is really hard for a lot of people and that’s fair; change is a scary thing,” she said. “But it’s really never too early to get involved, and it’s just one moment in a larger movement for teen empowerment.”

Los Angeles Times

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