Currently 18 states and DC allow 17-year-old persons to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by the time of the general elections.
Specifics & Figures
Voting: permits 17-year-olds who will be at least 18 years old during the general election to vote in any primary or special election(s) that occur before said general election.
Estimated to cost the counties several hundreds of thousands of dollars to $1 million in order to send and process voting materials from newly eligible 17-year-olds. The 16-17 age range contains approximately 2-3% of California’s population, meaning that California’s voting population could potentially increase by 500,000 to 750,000 persons.
Minors can currently engage in many serious responsibilities like working, pay taxes, and enlist in the armed forces before they are legal adults. If a 17-year-old can pay taxes, why should they not be allowed to vote? With the younger generation becoming increasingly politically active around issues like climate change and social movements, they deserve to select who they want to represent them in political office. Young adults consistently have lower voter turnout compared to other age groups. Engaging citizens from an earlier age allows more opportunities for building the habit to vote and participate in other civic duties that enriches the community and brings more representation to a political arena where there are currently few young people.
People and groups against Prop 18 point out that anyone under 18 years of age are not allowed to enter into legal contracts and are not allowed to engage in other legal responsibilities. Allowing legal minors to participate in electoral questions like approving tax increases and bond measures in primary and/or special elections contradicts the spirit of what California, and the federal government, law dictates. In addition, some Prop 18 opponents believe that 16- and 17-year old minors will not be able to exercise personal judgement in primary elections because the minors are heavily influenced by other people in their lives (parents, teachers, peers, etc.) Finally, other forms of political participation (canvasing, volunteering in a political office, phone banking, attending rallies, etc.) are also available to minors and are equally effective ways for a minor to express their political opinions, if they so choose.
Endorsements In Support
CA Governor’s office, some of the Democratic members in the CA Legislature, CA Democratic Party, CA College Dems, CA High School Dems [website]
Endorsements Not in Favor
There is no official group leading the opposition. However, some taxpayer groups and election monitoring groups are concerned with the provisions of Prop 18 and the impact under-18-year-old voters would have on CA electoral results.