Prop 18

On November 3, 2020, Californians will vote on several propositions on the ballot that will have great impacts on our state. However, one prop stands to affect our state’s youth the most — Prop 18. This proposition  is an amendment to the California Constitution that would, allow some 17 years olds to vote in primary and special elections, so long as they turn 18 before the subsequent general election. But what does this mean? As of right now, you can only vote in local, statewide, and nationwide elections when you are 18 years of age, and no younger, even if your birthday is in the same year. So even if you were going to turn 18 before the general election and could vote for President, you still would not be able to vote in primaries, as you are not yet 18. This amendment aims to allow 17 year olds to vote in the primary elections where you vote in new members for constitutional, U.S. Congressional, and state legislative offices on a single statewide primary election ballot, along with the Presidential Primary for your registered party. And, rarely, would allow 17 year olds to vote in special elections, wherein voters elect someone to fill a seat, which has become vacant between regular elections. But the one condition for this amendment is that you must turn 18 before the general election for President, on November 3.
While there have been many attempts at lowering the voting age, this is the first time it has made it on the ballot! It is all thanks to the tireless efforts of lobbyists and groups like I am a Teen Voter, who advocate for lowering the voting age so that more California youth can become civically engaged. This could be a big win for youth civic engagement, however, there still remains strong opposition to this amendment. Many say that because these potential voters are 17, they would still be considered minors, and their votes could be influenced by their parents and teachers. Others argue that 17 year olds are misinformed on issues, that they should not speak on issues that do not affect them, or that they simply do not have the maturity to handle a responsibility as serious as voting. These statements could not be further from the truth. Today’s youth are the leaders of social movements, they care about politics, the environment, racial equity and other issues our state, nation and world face. They take the time to educate themselves on these things and advocate for them, or share their experiences with how their lives have been touched by these issues in the hopes of creating change. Our generation is more than prepared to handle the serious responsibility that is voting. We may not be legal adults yet, but, when we turn 18, the legislation and policies that go into place on issues like housing, employment and education will directly affect us. We should be able to vote on these issues. Prop 18 is a step in the right direction for civic engagement and a better California.