Youth Voting in School Board Elections
This one’s for the history books: something that both Councilmember Kaplan and Mayor Schaaf agree on! Measure QQ was written by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, and has the support of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and all current Councilmembers. If it passes, the 2022 election would be the first in which 16- and 17-year-old Oakland residents could vote for school board director.
A “yes” vote would let students vote for OUSD Board Directors the same way Oakland voters can now. Students are intimately affected by school board decisions. Giving them some say in school board leadership gives a population that has already demonstrated engagement in issues under the board’s purview (teacher contracts, school closures, the free supper program) another avenue of influence - and starts the voting habit early!
The details for implementation are a little hazy. As OUSD District 6 Director Shanthi Gonzales notes, “There’s no plan and no resources devoted to educating student voters to make sure they can be informed voters when this legislation is enacted.” On the other hand, there’s little to make sure current voters are informed either! Berkeley’s analogous ballot measure, which passed handily in 2016, has not yet been enacted because the school district itself is responsible for coming up with the money to do so. “Berkeley officials are also debating other issues, including whether to print separate ballots for teens so they don’t vote in other races, and determining whether they can vote by mail.”
Organizations: AAPI’s for Civic Empowerment Fund, ACCE, ACLU of Northern California, Afrikan Black Coalition, All City Council Student Union, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Alliance for Girls, APEN, AYPAL, Bay Area Community Resources, Bay Area PLAN, Bay Peace, Bay Rising, Californians for Justice, Causa Justa, Centro Legal De La Raza, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, East Bay Asian Youth Center, East Bay Consortium, East Oakland Building Healthy Communities, East Oakland Youth Development Center, Educators for Democratic Schools, Equity Allies, Faith in Action, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Generation Citizen Bay Area, Just Cities, Justice for Oakland Students Coalition, Marcus Foster Education Institute, Mycelium Youth Network, National Lawyers Guild, 99 Rootz, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Oakland Education Association Executive Board, Oakland Education Fund, Oakland Kids First, Oakland Rising, Oakland Trybe, Oakland Youth Advisory Commission, Parent Voices Oakland, Parents United for Public Schools, Power California, Radical STEMM Educators of the East Bay, RYSE Center, 67 Sueños, Student Immigrant Empowerment Project at Stanford, Urban Habitat, Wellstone Democratic Club Education Committee, Youth ALIVE!, Youth Leadership Council (OPD), Youth Leadership Institute, Youth Speaks, Youth Together, Youth Uprising, Youth vs. Apocalypse.
YES! Let’s get these babies to the polls! We’re excited to see Oakland youth have the opportunity to have a say in who will decide so much about their daily lives and future prospects. It’s not easy learning to become an informed voter, and we’re excited to see more people begin that journey next election!