Inside the Ballot: Proposition 18

Inside California Politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California voters this year will decide whether 17-year-olds can vote in some elections.

With voter approval, Proposition 18 will allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they’re 18 by the following general election.

Current law requires voters to be at least 18 years old for all elections.

Supporters say Proposition 18 could help boost youth participation.

“This is crucial that young people have their voices heard on issues like climate change, economic opportunity, access to higher education,” Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Francisco, said. “What we’re talking about are high school seniors who are going to be learning about the mechanics of voting. So, this in no way is doing for partisan advantage, quite the contrary. In fact, younger people are moving in the direction of no party preference.”

Opponents say 17-year-olds are not legally adults and claim they have no real-world experience to make informed enough decisions and could be influenced by teachers on issues, especially tax increase proposals.

“We think this is a way of getting new voters in who haven’t heard these stories before, who will only hear the informational campaign of the school district and trying to get those extra votes for tax increases. So, we’re concerned about that,” Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association spokeswoman Susan Shelley said. “And we think that adults should vote. Eighteen is the voting age, we think that’s appropriate.”

Currently, 18 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections.

Fiscal analysts say if passed, this could cost an additional $200,000 to $1 million every two years, depending on the county.

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