Shall the City of Berkeley Charter be amended to authorize the City Council to allow persons aged 16 and 17 years old who would otherwise be eligible to vote, to vote for the office of School Director, provided no City funds could be used for any related expenses, such voting is technically workable and would not prevent consolidation with county elections, and would not result in any increased election costs to the City?
— Allow 16- and 17-Year-Olds to Vote for School DirectorCharter Amendment —
City of BerkeleyMeasure Y1 Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required
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Impartial analysis / Proposal
This measure was placed on the ballot by the City Council.
This measure would amend the Berkeley City Charter to authorize the City Council to adopt an ordinance granting persons aged 16 and 17 years old, who would otherwise be eligible to vote under state law, to vote for the office of School Director (members of the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Directors).
The Council would not be permitted to adopt such an ordinance unless certain conditions were met. First, no City funds could be used for any expenses related to the ordinance. Second, such voting would have to be technically workable. Third, youth voting could not prevent consolidation of municipal elections with county elections. Fourth, such voting could not result in any increased election costs to the City. Adoption of any ordinance pursuant to the proposed charter amendment would likely be preceded by an agreement between the City, the County Registrar of Voters, and the School District establishing the exact terms and conditions under which affected elections would be held.
Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. Yet less than 20% of 18-29 year olds voted in the 2014 midterm elections, the lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded. We must do something to better engage our youth—Measure Y will do just that by allowing 16- and 17-year olds to vote in Berkeley school board elections.
The Berkeley City Council unanimously voted to put Measure Y1 on the ballot and the Berkeley School Board unanimously supported doing so. By lowering the voting age in Berkeley school board elections, Measure Y1 will:
- increase voter turnout,
- give young adults the ability to truly influence the direction of their local schools,
- increase civic engagement among young adults, and
- provide a strong incentive to improve civics education.
Currently two cities in the United States allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote and the results are very encouraging. After Takoma Park in Maryland lowered its voting age for the 2013 election, for instance, turnout among 16- and 17-year-olds was higher than any other age group.
The international evidence is just as compelling. In Norway, more than 20 municipalities lowered their voting age to 16 on a trial basis for the 2011 election. The result was that turnout of 16- and 17-year-olds was much higher than first-time voters ages 18-21. Other countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua, Germany, Scotland, Hungary and Austria all have gone forward with letting 16- and 17-year-olds vote in local, state, and/or national elections.
In California, 16- and 17-year-olds are provided with most of the rights, privileges, and obligations as other adults. They can drive, work, pay taxes, and even be charged with a felony as an adult. It is time for the right to vote should be provided as well!
Vote YES on Measure Y1.
—Nancy Skinner, Former State Assembly Member
—Laurie Capitelli, Berkeley City Councilmember, District 5
—Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley City Councilmember
—Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, Berkeley School Board President
No arguments against were filed.
AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE III OF THE BERKELEY CITY CHARTER TO PROVIDE FOR VOTING BY PERSONS AGED 16 AND 17 YEARS OLD FOR THE OFFICE OF SCHOOL BOARD DIRECTOR
The People of the City of Berkeley hereby add Section 5, Paragraph 3 to the Charter of the City of Berkeley to read as follows:
Section 1. Section 5, Paragraph 3 of Article III of the Charter of the City of Berkeley is added to read as follows:
Charter Article III, Section 5(3)
(a) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Charter, the City Council may, by ordinance, provide for the voting by persons aged 16 and 17 years old who would otherwise be eligible to be electors under the Elections Code, for the office of School Director, subject to all of the following conditions.
(1) No City of Berkeley funds may be used, directly or indirectly, to pay any cost related to voting by persons aged 16 and 17 years old pursuant to this Section, including litigation costs and attorneys’ fees, nor shall City of Berkeley funds be used to replace funds used for these purposes by any other public agency or private entity.
(2) Equipment, software, systems, and procedures for voter registration and voting are technically ready to handle voting by persons aged 16 and 17 years old.
(3) Voting by persons aged 16 and 17 years old will not preclude the City from consolidating its municipal elections with the County.
(4) Voting by persons aged 16 and 17 years old will not result in additional election costs that will be paid directly or indirectly by the City of Berkeley.
(b) Any program for allowing voting by persons aged 16 and 17 years may specify the manner in which, method by which, and times at which, voters by such persons may be cast. The manner, method and time of voting for persons aged 16 and 17 years old need not be the same as for other persons.