SF Examiner: Opinion / October 2020 / Jacqueline Ornelas
“…Expanding voting rights is critical to long-term civic engagement and will strengthen our democracy. Research shows that the earlier one casts their first vote, the more likely they are to keep voting. Unfortunately, 18 is not the most ideal age to pick up a lifelong habit. Facing many life transitions, many 18 year olds do not begin voting until they are in their late 20s. At 16, young people are better positioned to form the habit of voting supported by peers, parents and teachers, while still immersed in the city they call home.
In San Francisco, local voter turnout is higher than many other cities. However, voter turnout is lowest among the youngest eligible voters, ages 18-29. We need to ensure young people build the habit of voting as early as possible, and voting at 16 is one solution to do that.
If we want to increase turnout of young voters, we must pass Prop G now and make our voting systems and civics education more accessible and relevant. Students learn best when the material presented is relevant to their lives, and civics classes fall short when they teach young people how government works without any ability to actually participate in it. 16 and 17 year olds deserve the opportunity to put these lessons into practice, integrating actual voting responsibility into the learning process.
Jacqueline Ornelas is a third-year student at the University of San Francisco, studying sociology, and a youth leader with San Francisco Rising.”