Seventeen-year-olds who will be 18 by the next general election should be able to vote in primary and special elections. Prop 18 will give them that right. Young people are significantly underrepresented in California’s electorate. Allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections will engage young voters while they are studying the issues in high school and have a strong interest in participation. Once voting begins it becomes a life-long habit. Furthermore, fairness dictates that people who will be eligible to vote in a general election should be able to help choose the candidates who will be on that ballot. Finally, many 17-year-olds are civically engaged and at the forefront of movements to improve the communities in which they live. We would all benefit from their voices at the ballot box.
Vote YES on Prop. 18
California’s youth are deeply underrepresented in government due to low voter participation rates. Our eligible youth turnout rate in the 2016 presidential general election was only 36 percent. Despite this, we have seen a surge of civic engagement by youth, many of whom are in high school, on matters ranging from gun control to climate change to racial justice.
Prop 18 provides an opportunity to engage youth at a moment of high interest – while they are studying government and beginning to exercise their voices. Furthermore, encouraging them to vote during a time when they have established ties to their communities will set them on the path to future participation in our political process. Once voting begins it continues as a life-long habit.
As a matter of fundamental fairness, it makes sense to give 17-year olds a voice in the selection of the nominees who will appear on their general election ballots. Prop 18 would also align California with 23 states, plus the District of Columbia, which allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections or caucuses.
Prop 18 will help address the current low voter participation rates among youth and involve young people in determining California’s future.
Paid for by League of Women Voters Supporting Schools and Communities First – Yes on Prop 15 (Nonprofit 501(c)(4))