While the shocking upset for president is at the forefront of media coverage right now, there were several youth rights issues on the ballot yesterday that should not be forgotten. NYRA is very pleased to announce victories on a ballot measure in Berkeley, California to lower the voting age and a non-binding ballot question to lower the drinking age in Massachusetts. The much anticipated Prop F in San Francisco that would lower the voting age to 16 for local elections looks like it will lose narrowly. Finally, voters in the town of Oregon, Ohio approved a new curfew law.
Victory in San Francisco looked promising last night, with 53% of the vote in favor of lowering the voting age with 40% of precincts reporting. Unfortunately, the winning side switched as more ballots came in. Currently, with all precincts reporting it looks like lowering the voting age in San Francisco will lose 47% to 53%. Late-arriving vote-by-mail and provisional ballots still need to be counted, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be enough for victory.
Such a close result is still historic for supporters of a lower voting age. The campaign was unquestionably the best organized and most active one for a 16-year-old voting age that this country has ever seen. Vote16USA summed it up well:
This weekend, youth leaders and campaign staff in San Francisco mobilized 169 youth to support the campaign. Youth filled 191 shifts, called 16,000+ voters, sent personal text messages (a highly effective digital organizing tool) to 25,000+ voters, and hit the streets to engage with voters around the city.
NYRA members and others across the country helped phone bank for the Yes on F campaign, and it is truly inspiring to see how far the campaign had come.
But there is plenty of good news today. Measure Y1 in Berkeley California passed with a resounding 68.1% of the vote. The measure provides for 16 & 17 year olds to vote for the School Board Director. Berkeley will become the third city in the United States to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. After years of fighting for a lower voting age by NYRA-Berkeley, the campaign was picked up by a new generation this year and yesterday saw victory.
We have great news for the campaign to lower the drinking age as well. NYRA member Matthew Malone made the case that the drinking age of 21 was age discrimination against young people. Voters agreed. The non-binding measure in Amherst, Massachusetts was won with a vote of 8,483 in favor to 8,173 against. While non-binding, the measure instructs their state representatives to introduce legislation to lower the drinking age to 19. The president of the Massachusetts state senate, Stan Rosenberg, represents the district. NYRA is glad to see this vote succeed and show the support that voters have for lowering the drinking age and their opposition to ageism.
Matthew Malone told us that, “The voting results of this ballot question on the drinking age shows that there is public support for a lower drinking age and voters might like the idea of a split-age drinking age.”
He vows to continue fighting for a lower drinking age in Massachusetts. This won’t be the last measure that goes on the ballot.