Oakland City Council Closer To Allowing 16 and 17 Year-Olds To Vote in School Board Elections

Rebecca Kaplan Oakland City Council President
(Last Updated On: May 20, 2020)

IT PASSED! President Proposed Ballot Measure to Allow 16 and 17 Year-Olds To Vote in School Board Elections Passes Unanimously.

 PHOTO: Rebecca Kaplan, Council President and Desmond Jeffries, Policy Director and studentadvocates meet to discuss Youth Vote ballot measure, prior to Shelter in Place in Place.
PHOTO: , Council President and Desmond Jeffries, Policy Director and studentadvocates meet to discuss Youth Vote ballot measure, prior to Shelter in Place in Place.

, Ca – City Council President, and the City Council unanimously passed a resolution to place the proposed ballot measure to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in School Board elections. The coalition of youth advocates, including Kids First (OKF) and All City Council Student Union (ACC), made history today in the City of .

“I am pleased and encouraged that the City Council voted unanimously to support the youth-led initiative, Youth Vote, by securing placement on the November 2020 ballot to allow 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in the School Board elections. This is an important step to demonstrate that we as a City value youth leadership, civic engagement and empowering the next generation leaders. At a time when we all need to see signs of optimism and hope the most, our youth are paving the way locally.”

-Aimee Eng, Unified School School Board Director, District 2

” Im happy to have supported the students I serve, from whom I learn to be a better director each year I serve.”

​- Roseann Torres, Unified School Board Director, District 5

The youth advocates of OKF and ACC are comprised of teenagers across the District, who took an active role in civic engagement, studying issues of governance, and playing a participatory role in our democracy.

Council President Kaplan stated; “Allowing young adults to have a vote in elections directly impacting them, helps improve responsiveness of these governmental roles, and helps build empowered community members, with practical knowledge and skillset to make change in their community through the democratic process. In this era, as we face down threats of voter suppression and other efforts to silence marginalized voices in our democracy, it is all the more important that we work to ensure our communities are included.”

Kids First and All City Council launched the Youth Vote coalition and built alliances with community-based organizations across the region. They also mobilized caucuses of students from OUSD to actively engage elected officials from the City Council and OUSD Board of Directors to garner support for these efforts.

Youth Vote is a critical opportunity to expand our democracy by elevating the voices and centering the needs of students who are most impacted by OUSD’s policies.” – Lukas Brekke-Miesner, Executive Director of Kids First

During this past year, students from the Youth Vote coalition learned and conducted research on the political process and worked to enable students to be enfranchised in the school-board elections as key stakeholders.

A student leader stated: “Research has proven that younger first-time voters are more likely to become life-long voters and make our parents more likely to vote as well. This will help us get more youth and young adults more civically engaged” – Denilson Garibo, School Board Student Director

At the City Council meeting today, May 19, 2020, Council President Kaplan, introduced the proposed ballot measure, to add an amendment to the Charter of the City of , to allow for voting by persons aged 16 and 17 for the Unified School District Board. Now approved by the City Council, this amendment will be placed on the ballot to be voted on by voters in the general election on November 3, 2020.

For more information and the Youth Voting Measure please click on the following link:


In 2016, 70.31% of voters in the neighboring city of Berkeley voted to allow persons aged 16 and 17 years old, to vote for school board members.

Youth Vote is endorsed by a wide range of people and groups, including Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Senator Nancy Skinner, the Wellstone Democratic Club, the OEA Executive Board, Rising, Faith In Action, EBASE, Public Advocates, Bay Area PLAN, and more than 50 organizations in . For A List of Supporters and Copies of Letters In Support of the Measure, please click on the following link: https://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=8435084&GUID=E5E546A0-9D90-4D83-899E-26BBCB9E5C1D

Councilmember At-Large is an honor graduate from MIT and was elected in 2008 to serve as ’s citywide Councilmember, she was re-elected in 2016.

She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).

Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4 and Facebook.

Rebecca Kaplan

By Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland's 3-Term At-Large Councilmember


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