Measure QQ is one of four local ballot measures facing Oakland voters this year. If approved, 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to vote in school board races beginning in 2022. In the following video, Oaklandside reporter Azucena Rasilla and Oakland Voices correspondent Iris Crawford discuss the details.

YouTube video

Video filmed and edited by Lauren Richardson

Iris Crawford: Hi! My name is Iris Crawford and I’m a correspondent with Oakland Voices. 

Azucena Rasilla: And I’m Azucena Rasilla, a reporter with The Oaklandside.

IC: We’re here to tell you about Measure QQ—one of four Oakland ballot measures in this year’s election.

Azucena, what can you tell us about this measure?

AR: Here’s what you need to know: If it’s approved by voters on November 3, Measure QQ would allow 16- and 17-year-olds in the city to vote in Oakland school board races.

The Oaklandside is here to help you vote

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District coverage: D1 | D3 | D5 | D7

Oakland ballot measures: Y (school bond), RR (higher dumping and blight fines), QQ (youth school board vote), S1 (stronger Police Commission)

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IC: So just to be clear, this measure wouldn’t lower the voting age altogether?

AR: No. For every other local race and ballot issue, the minimum voting age would remain 18.

IC: So if it passed, what exactly would happen next?

AR: The City Council, OUSD, and the Alameda County registrar’s office would come together to develop a plan, and the change would take effect during the next local election in 2022.

Iris, you looked into who’s supporting this measure, right?

IC: Well, in May, the City Council voted unanimously to place this measure on the ballot. And a number of local student organizations are also backing Measure QQ.

AR: What’s their argument?

IC: They say getting young people engaged in the political process at an earlier age will help them develop a lifelong habit of voting.   

They also point out that young people are already some of the most politically active members of the community, so they should also be allowed to express themselves at the ballot box.

But Azu, I know you spoke to some students who would be impacted by this. What did they say?

AR: I spoke to several students, but one, Ixchel Arista, stood out. Ixchel is a member of the city’s student council. She said that giving Oakland youth a political voice is more important than ever, given all of the challenges students are facing with distance learning.

Iris, did you speak to any voters who oppose the measure?

IC: Yes. Overall, I encountered a lot of support for the measure. But one parent I spoke to did express concern about whether 16- and 17-year-olds were mature enough to make an informed decision about who they would want their school board members to be.

AR: And that pretty much sums up the counter argument, right?

IC: Yes. And apparently, quite a few people hold that opinion about lowering the voting age in general: One poll from last year showed that 84% of voters nationally are against lowering the voting age to 16.

AR: So this push to lower the voting age is happening in other cities too?

IC: It’s actually an idea that’s been gaining steam since at least 2013, when 16- and 17-year-olds in Takoma Park, Maryland, won the right to vote in city elections.

AR: And the whole idea of lowering the voting age goes back even further: Before the 26th Amendment was passed in 1971, the voting age was 21, not 18.

IC: Right. So maybe Oakland’s measure to lower the voting age for school board races is just one part of a larger story that’s still being written.

AR: And that’s what you need to know about Measure QQ!

IC: Thank you for watching.

Iris M. Crawford, is a poet, social justice advocate, and independent journalist. Hailing from New York City, her journey has allowed her to empower communities through health care advocacy, education, and environmental justice. Currently, she is a Literary Arts Resident with the Shuffle Collective, where she will be working to strengthen her creative work, build community, and further enjoy all things Bay Area.

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.

Lauren Janelle Richardson, an East Oakland resident & founder of BypassTV, is a multi-tiered media producer that specializes in capturing stories through video, photography, journalism and audio productions. She also is a legal apprentice.