California looks to expand voting rights to 17-year-olds with Proposition 18

Ballot+Boxes+like+this+one+in+San+Anselmo+are+open+for+early+voting.

Ellis Chamberlin

Ballot Boxes like this one in San Anselmo are open for early voting.

On Nov. 3, voters across California will decide the future of Proposition 18 (Prop 18), a constitutional amendment that would allow new voters to cast their ballots as long as they turn 18 during the election year. If passed, California would join 18 other states who have this law in place. 

Those who support Proposition 18 argue that this law would allow first-time voters to participate in the full election cycle. Additionally, Prop 18 would boost turnout among younger voters. Youth voters between ages 18 and 24 constitute 14.5 percent of the population, and only 6 percent of this population vote on average in the general election.

Supporters also say that Proposition 18 is an opportunity to empower California’s youngest voters and encourage lifelong participation in American democracy.  

Many 17 year-olds in Marin support this proposition, as it would allow them the power to influence issues they care about. High School 1327 (HS 1327) Associated Student Body president Ella Acker is in favor of Prop 18. 

“Some people could argue that at 17 years old you don’t really have an overarching understanding of the government, but, really, who does? It’s practice, it’s understanding, it’s learning,” Acker said.

At age 17, Americans can join the military, obtain employment, and are required to pay taxes on the income they earn.  

HS 1327 senior Emma Murphy is also in favor of Prop 18, as she pays income tax and would like influence over where her money goes. 

“I personally would have loved the chance to have voted this year because I do have a job and I do pay taxes, and being able to have input on where that money is going is important to me,” Murphy said.

However, many argue that 17-year-olds are still legally minors and are heavily influenced by their parents’ and teachers’ opinions, proving them to be incapable of making fully informed decisions on their own.

San Anselmo resident Linley Kaye voted no on Prop 18. 

“I was a bit conflicted on this one, but my ‘no’ vote was based on the fact that while some 17 year-olds take the time to understand various ballot measures and their impact, most do not. The primary includes a number of tax-related provisions in California and most 17-year-olds aren’t yet in a position to pay, let alone fully understand taxes and their implications to society. And the cost of passing the measure was relatively high- a cost that California cannot take on right now,” Kaye said.

HS 1327 junior Davis Logan supports Proposition 18. “People that would take the time to go out and vote would be the ones who are very passionate and should receive the ability to vote,” Logan said. 

While supporters of Prop 18 believe citizens aged 17 are able to make informed decisions about important issues, the opposition still believes voting should be restricted from minors. The decision ultimately is in the hands of current voters. No matter the outcome, Prop 18 will be an influential vote to the state of our nation.

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