California bill would let 17-year-olds vote in all elections

California doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of the maturity of 18-year-olds, who can join the military but who can’t legally buy alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or firearms until they’re 21.

But Assemblyman Evan Low (pictured), D-San Jose, wants to go in a different direction on voting. He has introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, which would lower the voting age from 18 to 17. First it needs to get two-thirds support in both the Assembly and the Senate, then approval of a majority of state voters.

Twenty-three states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 on the day of the general election. Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, has introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4 to allow such voting in California.

But according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis, no state allows voting at age 17 in general elections.

“Lowering the voting age will give a voice to young people and provide a tool to hold politicians accountable to the issues they care about. Young people are our future, and when we ignore that we do so at our own peril,” Low said in a statement provided to the Sacramento Bee.

Last year, Low’s similar proposal got 46 votes in the Senate – eight shy of the two-thirds threshold. He believes with Democrats now holding 61 of the Assembly’s 80 seats and 29 of the Senate’s 40 seats, his chances of making the ballot are much improved.

Republicans have been generally opposed to Low’s measure at least partly for partisan reasons. Polls in recent years have shown younger voters lean strongly to the left – to the point where a Gallup survey from last August found more of those aged 18 to 29 had a favorable view of socialism (51 percent) than capitalism (45 percent).

San Francisco nixed 2016 measure lowering voter age

But it’s not clear if Democrats will see the change as a way to gain a political advantage or are even enthusiastic about the idea. In May 2016, in San Francisco – where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 8 to 1 – the Board of Supervisors put Measure F on the November ballot, which would have lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections. But voters rejected it 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent, a 15,000-vote spread.

The debate over the measure likely foreshadowed the debate to come in the Legislature over Low’s bill.

Supporters said 16- and 17-year-olds were as capable as adults of making smart, informed election choices. They also said the voting change would promote awareness of civics at a time when polls show many young people are unfamiliar with basics about democracy.

Critics questioned why the measure had such a different view of young people’s maturity when it came to voting than with other adult privileges.

The close election may have been swung by a critical Chronicle editorial in September 2016.

“Young people must wait until the age of 21 to drink alcohol and, in California, smoke tobacco. They must wait until the age of 18 to serve their country,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote. “It makes no sense for San Francisco to send the message that voting is a responsibility any less serious than these are.”

4 comments

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  1. Joe
    Joe 1 March, 2019, 14:23

    Why not lower the voting age to 5???

    Then the Demorats can offer the kiddies a free ice cream cone and unicorn for their vote.

    Reply this comment
    • ricky65
      ricky65 2 March, 2019, 09:15

      Why stop there,Joe? Why not make any baby born alive during an abortion eligible to vote?

      Sure the infant won’t be able to vote intelligently but neither does a 17 year old. No need for the infant to mark the ballot as Demorat ‘ballot harvesters’ can do it for after a short stop down at local party headquarters.
      Instead of harvesting dead babies these ghouls can reap extra votes.
      The upside of this idea is that maybe the souless infanticidists would see some value in preserving life

      Reply this comment
  2. RCC
    RCC 19 March, 2019, 21:52

    A voice to 17 year olds ? Let’s be real people, 17 year olds have no right to vote. I’d change my tune to those 17 year old kids thag signed up to the military, except that – no way. At that age they’re nowhere near capable of making a rational judgment on the country’s future.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 20 March, 2019, 07:45

    The precise reason why the Electoral College will always rule supreme. CA cannot force its act onto other states. Ever.

    Demand change CA. Start with splitting the state up into 4 unique areas, giving more representation in DC to get the money back that we throw to them and watch how fast the political climate changes on this coast.

    But before all of that, burn Sacramento to the ground. I mean, get everyone out of the building safely, park big rigs all over the lawns to keep firefighters from risking harm and let it burn.

    Had enough of that communist state stealing us blind on every single bill that has money tied to it.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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