The Age of Elections

At a recent city council meeting, there were a number of speakers from the local organization Vote16, requesting the the city agendize a discussion of moving the voting age down from 18 years of age to 16 years of age.

This movement, in its current frame, won’t succeed. 

The problem is simple – the request that 16 year olds be able to vote in municipal elections runs aground on the fact that we just moved our local elections to consolidate with the state and national elections. This was the result of a decade-plus worth of campaigning, largely from the local Democratic Club, who felt that putting all these ballots together at one time would increase voter turnout. 

They were correct – it has improved the number of people voting in local elections. Voting for City Council at the same time you are voting for Congress or Governor has inspired more people to participate. And that’s wonderful. 

But that means that we now have municipal elections on the same sheet of paper, the same election tally, as the state and local races. 

So giving 16 year olds the right to vote in local races would mean creating a separate ballot form. And that would be prohibitively expensive, and politically kind of discriminatory. 

So, the recent victory of consolidating elections pretty much prevents giving the franchise to 16 year olds for the local. Just ain’t gonna happen. 

I’m all for everyone being politically active, as soon as they are old enough to walk and talk. But lowering the voting age in Culver City just isn’t feasible. 

If Vote16 could set their site on a statewide and/or national campaign, that would be a victory worth winning. I’d love to see Vote16 pick up another cause – why waste a functioning organization? But having our city’s elections consolidated with the larger – county, state and national elections – means this won’t pass. 

Judith Martin-Straw


The Actors' Gang

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