Proposition 18 is on the California ballot this year, and if passed it would allow 17-year-olds who turn 18 before the general election to vote in primary and state elections. Although this may seem like a “radical new idea”, this system is already in place in 18 other states and Washington D.C.
This is the sixth time that this proposition has been voted on by the legislature and this time it has passed with a two-thirds majority vote. This proposition does appear to be a partisan issue as 55 Democratic legislators but only one Republican voted in favor of the bill whereas only one Democrat but 12 Republicans voted against it.
The hope for this proposition is that interest and voter turnout would increase, especially among the youth, by allowing them to have a political voice. Supporters for Prop 18 argue that many teenagers already work, pay taxes, and even sign up for the military so they should be extended this right to vote as well. Calmatters, a nonpartisan reporting agency, argues that this amendment would also allow for 17-year-olds to run for office, because only registered voters can run for elected positions. The proposition has garnered support from the California Association of Student Councils, Governor Gavin Newsom, the California League of Conservation Voters, the California School Boards Association, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
If we put it into the context of this election cycle it would mean that 17-year-olds who turn 18 before November 3, 2020 would have been allowed to vote in the primaries back in March. McClatchy High School junior Amahli Vivian believes that 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote in primaries, “because if they’re going to be of age by the general election then they should have a say in who is nominated.” If she was able to vote in this year’s primary, she would have voted for Andrew Yang or Bernie Sanders, two candidates who did not make it onto the general election ballot.
Arguments against the proposition revolve around the fact that most 17-year-olds are still in school and are at a risk of being influenced by teachers and parents. Jacob Inocencio, a junior at Christian Brothers High School, highlights the hypocrisy in this argument. He says that “18-year-olds are susceptible to this too. People who are above that [age] and live with their parents could have that happen to them too. It’s not exclusive to 17-year-olds so prop 18 really is just common sense to me.”
Other issues like logistics come into play with this contested proposition. McClatchy junior Eleanor Love argues that although this has the potential to become a good proposition, it could confuse young voters and “wouldn’t run smoothly at all at least for the next two elections”. She does acknowledge that there is always the question that if we don’t adopt this proposition, then when will we.
The official voting guide states that if the proposition is passed, there would be increased biennial costs to counties in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for voting materials. It is officially opposed by the Election Integrity Project California and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association. The Desert Sun Editorial Board has been quoted saying, “Pre-registration of young people beginning at age 16 already gives those eager to join the process a tangible step toward voting, which should remain a goal they’ll attain at age 18. It is definitely worth waiting for.”