Less and half of millennials vote in compared to baby boomers and older people, but millennials are such a large group that their voices are as important, if not more important than older people.
Local elections seem to get pushed aside in their importance compared to presidential elections, but they are still very important. This June there will be a local election in SF and other cities and some of the items on the ballot are of high importance,making voting of high importance to people of all ages as well.
Jason McDaniel, an associate professor in the political science department comments that, “According to Census data, 46 percent of 18-29 year olds voted in the 2016 presidential election, compared to about 70 percent of those age 45 and older. This is a huge gap,” McDaniel informs. If this data is true for presidential elections then the voting rate for young people is probably much smaller for state and local elections. “But, the gap is even more dramatic in local San Francisco elections,” says McDaniel, “According to my research, an average voter aged 60 or older is three times more likely to vote than a typical young person of age 18-29 years old” McDaniel informs.
What do young people think of local elections, particularly SF’s? Most young people only vote on items that they understand or that pertain to them. A lot of the wording on the particular measures can be misleading making people vote in a non-informed way or just not vote at all. Another important component to voting is not just showing up and participating but doing the research first.
Erik Aguilar, a political science major at SF State who works on one of the ballot measures for SF, is very aware on San Francisco politics and had a lot to say on some of the measure on the Ballot for the city this June. When asked what he would change about some of the ballot measures he had this to say about Prop C, “Prop C would bring access to early childhood education to all San Franciscans, allowing them to save money on childcare,” Aguilar commented.
Every young parent struggles with the decision whether to stay in work or stay at home with their newborn because childcare is so expensive and is more than most young parents can afford.
“Prop C not only invests in infant’s early cognitive development, but it also helps raise wages for early educators; who already make much less than our SFUSD teachers,” Aquilar says.
Another proposition on the June election that may affect many young people is Prop F, which would make SF a sanctuary city where undocumented families would not be allowed to be threatened or harassed by government agencies.
“I believe that policies like Prop F reaffirm SF’s commitment to our immigrant families, while also standing up to the federal government by stating: we will not back down and allow you to threaten our families,” Aquilar says.
Prop H addresses another topic that many young people talk about, which is police brutality and especially unnecessary brutality towards minorities. Prop H suggests arming officers with Tasers assuming that would decrease the use of their guns. This is problematic because of cases where in the Bay Area, at the shooting at Fruitvale Station, the officer claims to have been going for his Taser when he ‘accidentally grabbed his gun and proceeded to shot, so adding Tasers to the mix won’t necessarily help.
“During a time where SFPD still has a lot of reforms to implement after the DOJ’s 2016 report, it is important to prioritize de-escalation training and changes to the use of force policy rather than adopt a policy that grants officers the ability to obtain tasers,” Aguilar suggests.
The City election is on June 5 and is very important for people to register, as only a little more than half the SF population is currently registered according to a press release by the Department of Elections released on May 4, “Starting next week, nearly 290,000 San Franciscans—60 percent of registered voters—will receive their ballots in the mail. Along with their ballots, voters will receive voting instructions with information about ballot return options and deadlines,”
Local elections allow the opportunity to introduce new ideas and policies that can be adopted in other places and even states wide and then on to the Federal. Local elections are the first step to change.
“I think it is very important for young people and college students to vote in all local, state, and federal elections…The message: young people need to vote in every election!” McDaniels urges.