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San Diego Assemblywoman Wants 16-Year-Olds To Vote

Photo credit: Associated Press

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., June 25, 2015.

Lorena Gonzalez' Constitutional Amendment

GUEST:

Lorena Gonzalez, Assemblywoman, 80th District

Transcript

A bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, would amend California's Constitution to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to cast ballots in school district and community college board elections.

These offices, Gonzalez said, impact the lives of youth the most.

“They live this every single day,” Gonzalez told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday.

Currently, students must rely on their parents to vote. Many students, who are citizens, have parents who are not and who therefore cannot vote at all, Gonzalez said.

On whether 16-year-olds are knowledgeable enough to vote, Gonzalez said, "I think they're mature enough and they have firsthand experience of what's going on in schools - they should have a voice in it. The decisions that are made at local school boards and community college boards are affecting them probably more than anything else."

Another argument Gonzalez advances in favor of the amendment is that lowering the voting age for some races will lead to lifelong civic engagement and strong voting habits.

Kim Alexander, head of the California Voter Foundation, agrees with Gonzalez' premise. But Jon Fleishman, a conservative blogger, was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as saying, "I think somebody at the age of 16 years old is really a child, not an adult. This is not an age at which you’re ready to be making weighty decisions about public policy.”

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