By CLAIRE LAW FEATURES EDITOR
Proposition 18 is one of the many propositions that will appear on the ballot in the California 2020 elections on November 3, 2020.
Currently, the California Constitution permits people who are at least 18 years of age on the date of an election to vote for that election. However, if Proposition 18 is passed, it will allow 17-year-olds who will be at least 18 years old at the time of the next general election to vote in any primary or special election that occurs before the next general election.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), an association that represents the legislatures in the states, territories and commonwealths of the U.S, a third of the US states including Mississippi and Virginia already allow 17-year-olds to vote.
Laws that prohibit smoking and drinking are based on research that claims that the brain is not fully developed at age 20. Critics of the proposition believe that younger teens are not capable of voting for that same reason. However, the proposition has more potential upside than downside, so I urge a yes on Proposition 18.
In past years, our democracy has lacked civic engagement when it comes to participation in elections, particularly from younger voters. Only seven out of the eighteen presidential elections that occurred after World War II, exceed 60% of youth voter turnout. To improve the attendance percentage, it is crucial to lower the age to vote.
A research study cited by the Los Angeles Times confirmed that youth who are able to vote at an early age manage to acquire the practice of voting in the future.
“[M]inors who are allowed to vote in elections before age 18 tend to develop more reliable voting habits as they grow older,” as stated by the Times Editorial Board of LA Times.
In addition, once a habit forms, it is difficult to stop doing it. As stated by the University of Michigan’s Medicine department, the sooner you practice good habits, the longer it will stay with you.
“Habits are hard to break. That's why the sooner in life we build good, healthy habits, the easier it is to keep them and stay as healthy as possible” the Medicine department of the University of Michigan stated. “And when good habits are in place, it's easier to resist bad ones.”
This proves that the earlier people start voting, it will become a habit and they will continue to vote in future elections.
Moreover, many 17 and 18-year-olds are also heavily affected by these policies that are decided mainly by adults. So, it is reasonable to let youth have a say in what they believe in.
Besides, when 17-year-olds can not vote in the primary election, they usually turn down the opportunity to vote in general when they are 18-years-old because they were unable to pick the candidates that were on the ballot.
According to the League of Women Voters of America (LWVC), an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice, Proposition 18 will provide youth an opportunity to begin deciding what they believe in by voting and taking action at an earlier age.
“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.”
In fact, many teens are taking on activist roles while they are still in high school. They are organizing protests, writing letters, giving speeches and running social media campaigns about issues that are important to them.
A well-known example of a teen activist is 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. She has increased worldwide acknowledgment for advancing the view that humankind is confronting an existential emergency emerging from environmental change. She started a massive online response when she conveyed a scorching speech at the United Nations General Assembly to disgrace leaders from around the globe for their inaction on environmental change.
Despite the fact that Thunberg's audacious remarks to the leaders indicated a crucial moment for youth association in climate change advocacy, youth activists have been kicking the standards for quite a long time to start change among their companions and leaders the same on issues including weapon control, education, and LGBTQ rights.
Showing that they are capable of handling and expressing their thoughts by taking a stand no matter how effective, youth should have the right to vote in elections.
Although being a 17-year-old is not considered as an adult yet because many do not have to pay taxes and have the responsibilities of an adult. Nonetheless, the youth of this generation has proven to be capable of voting in elections. From organizing events about issues to trying to understand about politics, this shows that teens now are at least trying to make a change in today’s society. Because of these reasons, 17-year-olds should be given a chance to express their opinions by voting in elections.
In conclusion, Proposition 18 will help address the current low voter participation rates among youth and involve young people in determining California’s future. Once voting begins, it continues as a life-long habit.