Measure to lower voting age to 16 is on the ropes in Culver City in early returns
The California Legislature passed it as a package but failed to come up with a backup plan. Now it’s gone – and in the new year, voters in the nation’s third-largest city will be asked to change the state’s constitution to make voting-age limits even lower.
On Tuesday, the Culver City City Council held a meeting at the Culver City Library to study whether to put a measure on the November ballot. But the council ended up only voting to put another question on the ballot that would go to voters in one year.
The question had originally been proposed in January 2015 as a city measure (council-sponsored) and would have instituted a 15-year-old minimum requirement for voting in local and regional elections.
The city’s ballot question would have made it one of a dozen California cities with voting age limits of 16 or 17 and was drafted by the League of Women Voters.
At the time, a California League of Cities representative spoke about the issue, telling me that her organization’s research into voting age limits shows they’re “inefficiently low.”
The League of Women Voters in Los Angeles is the primary sponsor of the city ballot referendum. I spoke to League executive director Kelly Stegemeier, who told me the League and its local partners are “very much invested” in Culver City.
“My hope is whatever we do, if it works, it will be part of a national trend of cities that have voted to lower the voting age to 16 and then take it statewide,” she said. “We’ll have more to follow, I believe, in the years following.”
Backers of the ballot initiative – who, like Culver City, are primarily women – are hoping that the initiative will gain further momentum in the weeks and months leading up to the November 2016 election, which is expected to see an all-male electorate make an unprecedented third straight bid for statewide office.
The first question on the ballot, and one of only a handful in the nation on the issue, has been a top priority for the Culver City group. Stegemeier and other board members have been working with city staff on the question, which was first proposed in January 2015.
The current minimum voting age in the city is 14 and, while the 15-year-old minimum is in place statewide, most school districts have a different voting