Proposition 18: Voting at age 17

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The basics

What would Proposition 18 do?

Allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will be 18 and eligible by the next general election.

Currently, voters must be 18 to participate in any local, state or federal election. This constitutional amendment would also pave the way for 17-year-olds who qualify to vote under this proposition to seek office, because the law says only registered voters can run for elected positions. 

Estimated cost: Between $200,000 and $1 million at the county level every two years. Statewide one-time costs are expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Why am I voting on this?

The Legislature, by a two-thirds vote, placed this constitutional amendment on your ballot. It was the sixth time state lawmakers had considered the idea, but the first time it has reached voters.

Nationwide, at least 19 states and Washington D.C. allow 17-year-olds who would be eligible for the next general election to vote early.

Supporters say

Allowing teens who would be first time voters in an election cycle to participate from the beginning could increase interest and voter participation among youth. It’s a simple way to raise the voices of young voters. Many of them already work and pay taxes and they are allowed to join the military so voting if they are eligible makes sense.

Opponents say

Seventeen-year-olds are still kids. Biologically their brains are not yet fully developed, they can’t enter into legal contracts, and they still need parent permission for certain activities. These high schoolers may be unduly influenced by teachers or school positions on issues, and many have no real world experience with paying bills, renting or buying a house, or holding down a job.

Who's for it:

  • California Association of Student Councils

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla

  • California League of Conservation Voters

  • California School Boards Association

Who's against it:

  • Election Integrity Project California

  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

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How is this being bankrolled?

Major Donors in Support

  • Patty Quillin, philanthropist and wife of Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings

  • Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low's campaign committee

  • California Democratic Party

Major Donors in Opposition

  • none

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