Lowered voting age to be placed on Nov. ballot

At a special City Council meeting on June 6, the Council voted in favor of a Consent Item to lower the voting age to 16 for Culver City municipal elections and Culver City Board of Education elections, for placement on the November 2022 election ballot. The draft proposed question for the ballot reads, “Shall the measure amending the City Charter of the City of Culver City to allow Culver City residents aged 16 and 17, who are otherwise eligible to vote under state and local law, to vote on City and School District candidates and ballot measures, provided that each legislative body has approved budgetary funds and determined logistical systems are in place, and that inclusion would not prevent consolidation of City or School District elections with county elections, be adopted? Right at the start of the conversation, Vice Mayor Albert Vera raised a motion to have the item taken off of the agenda, and Council Member Göran Eriksson seconded it, but the motion failed 2-3. Some public speakers raised concerns that the item should be an Action Item, not a Consent Item, something that staff acknowledged was an oversight. However, Council Member Alex Fisch addressed the issue, stating that Consent Items can still be pulled and debated. Lawyer Ron Ostrin wrote to the City to say that, “There is absolutely no discussion or information provided by the staff of the legal or financial impact of this proposal. It deserves a substantial amount of discussion and citizen involvement and input, and instead is being put through on a stealth basis.” However, City Attorney Heather Baker replied that, “This matter was fully discussed by the City Council at its March 28 regular meeting… The purpose of the June 6 item is to receive approval of the final language of the ballot measure, as recommended by the Council Subcommittee.” Other speakers believed that 16-year-olds are not ready to vote, that their cognitive abilities are not yet fully developed. One speaker said that it’s “creepy” to burden 16-year-olds with adult issues. Somebody else pointed to a recent brawl at school as proof that they shouldn’t be voting. Two representatives from Vote16 described the arguments against as “anecdotal,” stating that 16 year olds can pay taxes and are often engaged so should get a vote. In previous meetings, it has been pointed out that many adults don’t have the cognitive ability to understand the vote but aren’t excluded, and neither should they be. Council Member YasmineImani McMorrin said that, “Young folks have done extensive work over a number of years to allow our community to have a say. I thank the young voices that came out… People will attack your values, intelligence, and attempt to discredit you… but I see you.” Mayor Daniel Lee thanked the young voices for the consistency of their message over the years as their members changed, as did the City Council.