*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
We are in another election year and it is (nearly past) time to start considering not only who you want to vote for as president and to represent you regionally, but also to start doing your research on the measures on the California State Ballot this year. Or alternatively, you can follow this series of blog posts to get a summary of what's at stake with each measure, who is in support of and opposed to it, and a progressive's guide on checking No or Yes.
Proposition 18 is the next measure up for vote in this year's election. It is a fairly straightforward proposition to amend the California Constitution such that it would permit 17 year olds who will be 18 by the next general election to vote in primary and special elections, assuming they are also otherwise eligible to vote. This would be a legislative constitutional amendment.
A vote for yes on Proposition 18 would mean that individuals who will be able to vote in general election, can vote and make their opinion about who they want on the ballot for those general elections known during the primaries and special elections. This measure is really important for boosting youth civic engagement; they are more likely to vote in general elections if they are allowed to participate in the full election cycle and have the chance to vote in candidates they are excited for and that will inspire the vote. For example, the Bernie campaign might have been able to get more traction if young adults were able to vote for him during the primaries.
Moreover, it is just common sense that these individuals be allowed to participate in the full process; what is the point of limiting democracy? The only arguments for limiting people s ability to vote and express their opinions is to maintain the status quo. And we can see how that status quo has been going…
A vote for NO on Proposition 18 would mean no constitutional amendment and a vote for continuing the policy of not allowing anyone under 18 to vote in a primary or special election, even if they will be eligible for the general election. One might argue that the cost of this proposition is one reason to vote no; it will cost several hundred thousand in registration and voting materials. However, I would counter this by pointing out these individuals would be eligible to vote later in the year anyway and what better use for our tax dollars than to spend them on the democratic process?