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Vote16
SMC

A campaign to raise awareness on voting age issues,
broaden youth civic engagement, and lower the
voting age in San Mateo County

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About Us

Vote16 San Mateo County

Vote16 SMC, an official chapter of Vote16 USA, is a non-partisan initiative to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections in San Mateo County, California. Founded and led by a team of civically-engaged youth, we aim to empower youth to have a voice in local politics by raising community awareness, garnering political support, and building a coalition of local leaders and organizations.

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Political Endorsements, Press Coverage, and Partnerships

Support

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Kevin Mullin

Speaker Pro Tempore of the California State Assembly

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Marc Berman

California State Assemblymember; Chair of the California Assembly Committee on Elections

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Charles Stone

Mayor of Belmont and Candidate for San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

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Maryann Derwin

Mayor of Portola Valley

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Diane Howard

Mayor of Redwood City

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Giselle Hale

Vice Mayor of Redwood City

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Jeff Gee

Councilmember and Former Mayor of Redwood City

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Davina Hurt

Councilwoman and Former Mayor for the City of Belmont

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Jen Wolosin

Menlo Park City Councilmember

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James Coleman

South San Francisco City Councilmember

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Amourence Lee

San Mateo City Councilmember

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Joe Goethels

San Mateo City Councilmember

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Ray Mueller

Candidate for San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

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San Mateo County Youth Leadership Institute

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San Mateo County Youth Commission

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San Mateo Daily Journal Article

Vote16 SMC Kickoff Event

Team

Meet the Leaders

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Vikram Seshadri

Founder & Campaign Director

Senior at Menlo School

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Rohin Shanker

Lead Website Developer & Head of Digital Presence

Senior at Menlo-Atherton High School

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Will Rice

Head of Outreach & Engagement

Senior at Menlo-Atherton High School

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Teeron Hajebi

Head of Social Media

Senior at Menlo School

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Claire Lenden

Head of Youth Engagement

Senior at Menlo School

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Dakin Muhlner

Head of Communications

Senior at Menlo School

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Daniel Roman

Head of Events

Senior at Menlo-Atherton High School

Why Vote16?

Why lower the voting age?

Establishes voting as a lifelong habit

The United States trails most developed nations in voter turnout. Moreover, young American voters ages 18-29 have consistently had the lowest turnout rates compared to other age groups. Some attribute this to political apathy or lack of engagement; in many ways, though, 18 is the worst age to start voting. 18-year-olds have just been separated from their parents, thrust into college or the workplace, and burdened with the responsibilities of an adult. The second most common reason 18-year-olds don’t vote is that they are “too busy”. In contrast, 16- and 17-year-olds are in a stable high school environment surrounded by friends, family, and teachers, and most have already learned about government.


In local communities and foreign nations that have implemented a lower voting age, 16- and 17-year-olds consistently turn out at a higher rate than traditional first-time voters ages 18-20. Moreover, allowing youth to start voting at an early age instills voting as a habit, increasing turnout in future years.

Youth have a stake in the game and are invested in their future

Prominent political issues in San Mateo County, including climate change, education development, racial justice, and gun control, all currently impact youth, and the legislation and elected leaders of today will determine the future wellbeing of 16- and 17-year-olds. Worldwide and in San Mateo County, teens have already led and organized protests, volunteered for political campaigns, registered others to vote, paid millions in taxes, and petitioned the government. It’s time that our political activism and civic engagement translated to having a voice in government.


A lower voting age increases civic engagement and political awareness

When 16 and 17 year-olds gain the right to vote, schools will be pushed to implement civics courses, which will help students to learn about the electoral process and how their decisions affect their communities. This education, combined with the actions youth will take on their own to familiarize themselves with their ballots, will foster long-term civic engagement and a greater awareness of the impacts of their political decisions for years to come.


Myths + Misconceptions


16-year-olds aren’t mature enough to vote

Although research shows that the brain is not fully developed in impulse driven decision making at 16, the process of voting is not an impulse driven action. The youth who register and take action in order to vote will be those youth who are driven to make a difference with their vote, meaning that they will think out the choices they will make before voting. This kind of thinking has been proven to be fully developed by the age of 16[1], so youth will be on a level playing field with adults when it comes to mental ability to make decisions on their ballots.

16-year-olds will make poor voting decisions

In our present time–the height of the information age–teenagers are more informed about politics and current events than ever before. Through the internet and social media, teenagers have often cultivated informed political opinions for years before turning 16, many of which differ from their parents[2]. Additionally, research shows that 16-year-olds have the knowledge and abilities needed to vote in an informed manner[3].


If we lower the voting age to 16, what’s stopping us from lowering it to 14, or even younger?

Just as age 18 carries a weight in our society, the age of 16 carries a similar weight–this is when teenagers can get their driver's licenses and begin working as many hours as they choose. Additionally, there has been research that has indicated that, although 16-year-olds are cognitively equal to most voters 18 years old, 15-year-olds typically are not, making 16 a logical biological boundary.


More Information


Successes

Vote16 is a movement with national presence and success. Campaigns in five cities in Maryland; Berkeley, California; and Oakland, California have successfully lowered the voting age for municipal or school board elections. Current Vote16 campaigns exist in Michigan, Illinois, Washington D.C., Palo Alto, and more.


On February 4, 2021, Representative Grace Meng introduced H.J.Res.23, a Constitutional amendment that would nationally lower the voting age. The bill has 17 co-sponsors and is a huge leap forward for the Vote16 movement.

Sources

Dahlgaard, Jens. “The Surprising Consequence of Lowering the Voting Age.” Washington Post, The Washington Post, Mar. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/02/28/the-surprising-consequence-of-lowering-the-voting-age/.

Hart D, Atkins R. American Sixteen- and Seventeen-Year-Olds Are Ready to Vote. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 633, no. 1, 2011, pp. 201-222. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0002716210382395#articleCitationDownloadContainer

Plutzer, Eric. “Becoming a Habitual Voter: Inertia, Resources, and Growth in Young Adulthood.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 96, no. 1, 2002, pp. 41–56. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3117809.

Wagner, Markus et al. “Voting at 16: Turnout and the quality of vote choice.” Electoral studies vol. 31, no. 2, 2012, pp. 372-383. PubMed Central, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4020373/.

“Voter Turnout Demographics.” United States Election Project, 2021, www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/demographics.

[1] Douglas, Joshua. “In Defense of Lowering the Voting Age.” U. Pa. L. Rev. Online 165 (2016): 63. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2903669

[2] Jan Eichorn, How lowering the voting age to 16 can be an opportunity to improve youth political engagement: Lessons learned from the Scottish Independence Referendum, (Edinburgh, Scotland: d|part - Think Tank for Political Participation, 2014.) https://dpart.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/How-lowering-the-voting-age-to-16-can-be-an-opportunity-to-improve-youth-political-engagement.pdf

[3] Daniel Hart and Robert Atkins, “American Sixteen- and Seventeen-Year- Olds Are Ready to Vote,” Annals of the American Academy 633 (January 2011): 208. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27895968

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