California city to decide on whether 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in municipal elections

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A polling location station is ready for the election day. (Adam Kazmierski/Getty Images)

California city to decide on whether 16- and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in municipal elections

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Teenagers in an affluent Los Angeles suburb have been canvassing the city leading up to the midterm elections, hoping to convince citizens that they, too, should be allowed to vote.

The 26th Amendment gives 18-year-olds the right to vote, but a movement has been growing to allow 16- and 17-year-olds in Culver City to cast ballots in local elections. If Measure VY passes, the area where MGM Studios was born in the 1920s will join just three other American cities that allow teenagers as young as 16 to vote.

The measure would apply to city and school board elections only. In 2016, Berkeley became the first California city to pass such a law, followed by Oakland in 2020. Six towns in Maryland were the first nationally to allow 16-year-olds to vote a decade ago.

“This is my issue, this is my life that I live through that I should be in charge of instead of having adults make all the decisions,” Melisa Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times. “So pushing this is really empowering for me and my community. To be able to do this, it just says a lot of good things about us and our future and future generations.”


The city of 40,000 is littered with campaign signs both for and against. One of the opponents is retired mayor and school board president Steven Gourley.

“Virtually everyone I have approached does not know it’s on the ballot. When I tell them what it is, they say, ‘16, are they crazy?’” he said. “I talk to people who’ve had teenagers and I talk to teachers who taught in the high school, and they say that these people are too young to vote.”

He has created a website,, with a counter prominently displayed on the homepage counting down to the voting cutoff on Nov. 8.

“We need mature, reasonable voices guiding our community,” the site says. It criticized the backers of the movement, who are other politicians on the city council and school board.

“Does anyone in Culver City really want to emulate Oakland and Berkeley? Look up Oakland and Berkeley and see all the informed decisions they make about violence and crime,” the site continued. “The other glistening community up north, San Francisco, has VOTED this measure DOWN, TWICE. What does that tell you?”

While the city is predominantly Democratic, moderates such as Gourley fear that the passage of Measure VY would cement the power of far-left politicians spurring the movement, the Los Angeles Times said.


The pro-Measure VY camp said the movement is all about fairness.

“Culver City’s 16 and 17 year olds are socially and politically engaged in the community and possess all of the mental faculties to make informed political decisions,” said a ballot statement signed by the city’s current mayor and school board president. “Teens can drive, work jobs, pay taxes and even pre-register to vote.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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