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Culver City measure allowing 16, 17-year-olds to vote may be decided by 3 votes

Culver City measure allowing 16, 17-year-olds about to be decided by 3 votes
Culver City measure allowing 16, 17-year-olds to vote may be decided by 3 votes 02:16

In one of the tightest races in Los Angeles County, the fate of a Culver City measure, which would allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote, hangs on by just a thread.

"Every single vote counts," said 17-year-old Ada Meighan-Theil. 

In the three weeks since Election Day and with only a few days left until L.A. County certifies the results, Measure VY is about to be decided by just three votes. As of Thursday, 49.99% of residents support the measure while a slight majority of 50.1% disapprove of it. 

If passed, Measure VY will allow teenagers as young as 16 to vote in local and school board elections.

At age 5, former Culver City Mayor Steven Gourley knocked on doors with his mother for the "Dollars for Democrats" program. He said he understands the power of youth involvement in politics but claimed the measure would be too costly. He referred to the measure as farfetched and said teens would need to wait for their time. 

"They have to wait until they have a stake in the community," said Gourley. "Nothing they do comes back to them as repercussions."

For the last four years, Meighan-Theil has campaigned for the youth to have a voice and a vote. She disagreed with Gourley's sentiment. 

"We're voting on climate legislation that's going to stick with us, because we're going to be inheriting this planet," said Meighan-Theil. "We're voting on gun reform laws, as we're in classrooms every day. We're voting on housing because we'd like to be able to afford our homes in the future. So, while 16 seems young, the policies we are voting on are going to affect us for the rest of our lives."

Gourley questioned if 16 and 17-year-olds had the maturity to understand what was happening in their community. Under the 26th amendment, the right to vote is granted when someone turns 18 years old.

"I was a very gifted 16 and 17-year-old," said Gourley. "I certainly would have followed the party line. But, would I have really matured enough to know what goes on in the community? I don't think so."

Six cities in Maryland have passed similar measures. Meighan-Theil hopes Culver City will follow suit. Even if it doesn't, she says the fight will continue. 

"While enfranchisement is the goal, and it's not a goal we are easily going to stop fighting for," said Meighan-Theil. "We know that our voices matter, and we will continue to make them heard."

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