By Raymond Nava
Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-olds who turn 18 by election day to vote in the primary elections. Voters should vote yes, as this would be good for democracy, and give more people a choice. The politics of California also make Prop.18 even more important.
Allowing 17-year-olds to vote in the primaries would allow them to have a say in the election. Because of the political makeup and the electoral system in California, primaries can be tantamount to the general election.
This is the case in races in districts that are safe for the party as well statewide.
California’s electoral system is a top-two primary. How this works is that all candidates, regardless of party, are listed on the ballot and voters can vote for whichever candidate they like.
The two candidates who get the most votes, regardless of party and unless gets over 50% of the vote, move on to the general election.
This can mean that the race for second place is even more important than getting first, as the second place winner will also head to the general. Races in the past show very close races for second, and perhaps if 17-year-olds had been allowed to vote in the primaries, the outcome would have been different.
In the 2018 election for California’s 48th congressional district, Democrat Harley Rouda won second place in the top two primary, defeating fellow democrat Hans Keirstead by 125 votes. Rouda went on to win the general election, defeating incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher by 8 points.
The margin of victory in the general suggests that Keirstead also would have had a good chance at winning, and if 17-year-olds were allowed to have voted in the primary, perhaps enough could have pushed Keirstead into second place over Rouda. This is an example of why 17-year-olds should be given the ability to shape the election they will officially be eligible to vote for. Otherwise they are stuck with the options they didn’t get to have a say in.
Another contest where 17-year-olds would have great say in is the presidential primaries. California has a large number of delegates in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. This can give candidates in the primaries many delegates.
Since California has a heavy Democratic advantage, the primaries are where voters get to have their say in the presidential contest. This applies to both parties.
There are some who oppose Prop 18 however. East Los Angeles College student Selena Ortiz says she opposes the proposition. She said she believes that “There should be no privilege in age. If they are not old enough, there is no exception regardless if they ‘will be soon.'” She also said she wants people who were formerly incarcerated to get their voting rights restored instead of allowing 17-year-olds to vote.
While some have their reasons for opposing Prop. 18, in the end, voters should vote yes. Election day is November 3, and mail in ballots have already been sent out. Young people deserve to have their voice heard, since they are also affected by politicians or ballot measures.