A Voting Vendetta
There has been a major debate on the correct voting age requirements, especially in light of this election. Should California allow 17-year olds to vote in the election, or should they keep the voting age at 18? Continue reading to find out the Trilemma around Prop 18.
by Prithvi Prem
On November 3rd of 2020, citizens around the US had headed to their polling booths to cast a vote in the election. Although the main event will be the Presidential Election, there are other things that the public will be voting for. Each of the fifty states will be putting forward a list of propositions for which the public can vote to be passed. In California, Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will turn 18 by the subsequent general election.
There has been a major debate on the correct voting age requirements, especially in light of this election. This is where the trilemma is presented. Should the state allow 17-year olds to vote in the election, or should they keep the voting age at 18?
POV 1: Prop 18 Should be Passed
The main reason this proposition is being considered is due to the fact that the 17-year-olds who miss the date of the election will have to wait four more years (until they are 21), to legally be able to vote. That would feel unfair, especially considering that, at 17, they would only be one year away from legally being allowed to vote.
California will not be the first state to allow 17-year olds to vote. If Prop. 18 passes, California would join 19 other states and Washington, D.C., in allowing teens of age to vote in a November general election.
Proposition 18 would greatly benefit the national and California state elections because it would allow more voters to participate in the elections. Democracy requires voter participation to be sustainable, and it starts with young people making a habit of voting. Historically, young people have not shown up to the polls at the same rate as their parents and grandparents, therefore, with the passing of proposition 18, more young people would get involved and vote if they had that opportunity.
As of recently, more and more young citizens have become interested in politics, and are
starting to voice their opinions as well. They are motivated to lead on issues regarding the environment, social justice, gun safety, and racial justice because these issues impact them personally, as well as the nation. In recent years, young activists have held demonstrations and walkouts over climate change, ethnic studies, gun violence, and racial injustice. They’ve created book clubs amplifying underrepresented voices. They’ve led initiatives to feed the homeless and provide clean drinking water. Therefore, allowing 17-year-olds to vote would allow a lot of change in our world, considering that this generation will be the hands of our future.
POV 2: Prop 18 Should Not be Passed
The reason why many people are not for Proposition 18, is for the reason that the voting regulations are explicitly stated in the constitution. The 26th amendment states that “ the right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age”. That meant that anyone who is under eighteen, no matter how close they are to that age, will not be able to vote.
Many who disagree with the proposition state that 17-year olds are not as educated as eighteen-year-olds, and therefore should not be allowed to vote. In addition to selecting candidates, many primary elections also include financial matters such as school bonds and tax measures. Gaining knowledge on such issues requires a certain amount of lived experience, usually not possible for a 17-year-old. Also, in Primary Elections, the percentage of eligible voters who vote is low, so a large number of 17-year-old voters might allow high-school students to be able to take part in deciding very important issues for the rest of the population.
This proposition is largely unfair for minority young adults as well, who, in certain regions, represent a large part of the population. At age 17, most of them would be still in school and living at home; they would not have yet faced the real world where they would be asked to make decisions that could influence their lives.
Also in states like California, the younger population tend to lean more liberal in terms of their beliefs and support. They have been exposed to a more liberal school system, so they have not had a chance to gain much experience beyond the education system. People should not be burdening these young people to make fundamental decisions that may have a profound effect on their future as well as the rest of society. In short, the main message is that teenagers lack the real-world experience to guide a vote in elections
So should proposition 18 be passed? Even though, as a teenager myself, it would be expected that I would be all in for this, I still think that there are two sides to this issue. This is because the constitution clearly states that the voting age should be 18, and I believe that we should still abide by that. At 18 years, children officially become adults and gain many more rights apart from just voting. I believe that they should gain voting rights with those other privileges as well instead of getting it a year earlier. That being said, I wouldn’t mind if they lower the voting age, as I do believe that more and more teenagers are developing an interest in politics.
So what do you think? Should 17-year-olds be able to vote? Or are they too young to decide the future of our nation?