More high school students would be able to vote if the voting age was lowered to 17. California Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and Assemblyman Evan Low worked with a legislative council to create a bill called Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4, which would do precisely that in California.
According to the bill text, ACA 4 “will allow individuals who are 17 years of age who will be 18 years of age by the general election” to vote in a primary election.
Mullin and Low have attempted to pass this bill twice beforehand, however it did not receive enough votes to become a proposition on the California ballot.
“Mullin wants more civic engagement for youth. Voters between ages 18 and 24 have absolute dismic turnout compared to any other age group,” explained Laura Fitzgerald, Mullin’s legislative aid.
Only 27.5 percent of youth voters voted in the 2018 California general election, as reported by the California Civic Engagement Project.
“This is because young people don’t think their vote counts,” elaborated Fitzgerald.
Youth supported the bill, as long as voters are 18 by the time of the election. However, if youth are not 18 by the time of general election, support for the bill ran thin.
“You can wait another year. You’re not legally an adult yet,” stated senior Samantha Roberts. Another student agreed with this viewpoint.
“There’s a lot of people who think they’re competent but they’re really just inexperienced. They don’t have the world experience that it takes to vote,” said junior Konrad Raab. “Experience such as taking a job, health care, insurance, you don’t fully feel how it affects you until you’re an adult.¨
Junior Thomas Brackett brought up that emancipated minors should be able to vote, if “world experience” is the inhibiting factor.
Fitzgerald explained that there are many policies that impact teenagers.
“Young people are impacted by policies on climate change, gun control with the amount of mass shootings, and student loan debt,” said Fitzgerald.
Brackett supported a lowered voter age, even if voters were not 18 by the time of the election. “The voting age should be lowered to 16,” said Brackett. “Tell me why not.”
Despite the debate over the details, there was a general agreement that the political voice of youth should be represented more.
“We’re the ones who are going to be the ones living in the world. We want to make progress for everyone else, and our future children,” said senior Jasmin Zhong.