Ignoring The Will Of The Voters
Wendy Schaetzel Lesko | Dec 2022 |
(The opinions expressed in blog posts are those of the author and not necessarily those of YouthFacts.org)
Elections are full of surprises, including squeakers.
Take the recent defeat on a ballot measure in the west Los Angeles hub of film studios with a population of 40,000. A small cadre of high school students led a campaign with so little money that yard signs got delivered in the final days before November 8. Their goal:
To extend the right to vote in municipal elections to 16 and 17 year olds in Culver City
with the same protections as everyone else, because we know that this age group can
vote credibly and is affected by legislation.
If only seventeen more adults marked “yes” for Question QY, the Culver City city council and
school board candidates would have had a new cohort of teen voters in 2024.
But wait, probably not.
A predictable pattern of public officials failing to respect the will of the voters and an equal
travesty, fail to respect minors.
Travel north to Alameda County with a population of 1.6 million. In 2020, a whopping 67
percent voted to expand voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds for board of education
candidates. With that overwhelming support, including the endorsement by the current school
board directors, one might think the powers-that-be might roll into action.
But not a single eligible new voter voted this November. Even though it is complicated to
develop a special ballot and automate the process for these new voters, the county registrar
gets a failing grade. There’s been “zero progress” and students “are pissed,” says Lukas
Brekke-Miesne, an Oakland Unified Student District graduate and executive director of
Oakland Kids First.
At the November 2022 Candidates Forum organized by students, Jennifer Brouhard, who
won a seat on the school board, said ”I think that it’s a shame and it’s criminal that you were
not allowed to vote in this election. That should have happened. There should have been a
Can you stand more evidence of this disenfranchisement?
In 2016, Berkeley, California voters had also approved lowering the voting age for school
board races but punted the financial responsibility for implementation on the school district.
Stalemate. Once again, not a single student has cast a vote since this ballot measure passed
six years ago.
With all these liberal folks warning about the future of our democracy, it is difficult to believe
they really give a damn about engaging the “leaders of tomorrow.” Quite the opposite: instead
of encouraging the habit of voting that research demonstrates is most effective when people
begin at age 16, these public servants lack the will and ingenuity.
Rather than promoting increased voter turnout, these adults may be responsible for lifelong voter turnoff.