Proposed Bill Would Let 17-Year-Olds Vote in All California Elections

VotedCalifornia 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.

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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.”

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  1. Donald J. says

    Well that’s about the age most California voters have been voting from due their lack of mature comprehension of the delegates and the proposals put before them. It won’t really change the outcome any.

  2. john hanebury says

    Of course demoncrats want 17 olds to vote. Most all of them have been trained to live off their parents (as the Lord intended) and since they have already been trained that way it is easy to get them to continue thinking that way —– that the world owes them a living; so vote for demoncrats who promise cradle to grave support, a free people and our Republic be damned.

  3. No, no and HELL no!! Most under18 teenagers I know can bearly write their names much less hold an intelligent debate on political issues! Most are brain washed with retarded liberal cap anyhow!

  4. Donald Haddock says

    The opinions that those in favor of 16 and 17 year olds voting are the opposite of the facts. They are not capable of adult cogent thought and should never have any day in the future. When they become adults hopefully they have grown up. But those suggesting such stupidity apparently have never grown up. Just another stupid Democrat Socialist ploy. Hope real Californian Adults of the electorate are not stupid enough to let children ever have any say in State or National issues that require voting..

  5. askeptic says

    We’ve already been told that they are incapable of making adult choices regarding medical care until they’re 26 – perhaps we need to raise the voting age?
    If they wish to be treated as an adult at 17, there’s one simple way to do that: Graduate from High School and enlist in the military.

  6. We will sue. These kids are still with their parents. They should be doing their schooling. Voting is for ADULTS

  7. CaliExpat says

    “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.”

    If that’s the case, then why limit it to 17?
    Why not lower it to birth???

    Uh, no…
    I propose that we RAISE IT to THIRTY, OR must own property in the jurisdiction…
    That might restore more sanity to the electoral process, rather than pandering to an age cohort that was raised stealing music “for free” off the internet….

    • showandtell says

      Our beyond-absurd CA legislature is reminding me more and more every day of that cheesy futuristic scare movie from the 60s “Wild in the Streets.” Remember that one? The call in that was to lower the voting age to 14 years old. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry these days:

  8. Lets see now. we got the union vote, who depend on us for their jobs and provide us with funds, we got the illegal vote which we got by passing the illegal’s can have driver’s license and register to vote at the same time law, we have the cemetery vote and the seven live people who still want to vote for Democrats; now if we can just add the group that was taught to spell liberal instead of conservative because it has fewer letters we should be able to swing a national election. Oh!, I almost forget the prisoners, we can empty the prisons of dangerous people who have very little interest in staying out of prison. This particular group will be more than thankful to the Democrat party. All this and the priceless idea of everyone voting by absentee ballot looks like a surefire winner to me unless the Fed decides to investigate all this BS.

  9. If they’re not paying taxes they should’nt be allowed to vote. I don’t care what age they are.

  10. b burghs says


    How transparent,
    and SAD for our once great state.

    Restore our two party government….. vote Republican until parity so we at least return to having issues balloted.
    Today Dems own a supermajority…. tax and spend at will…. and voters get no stay.

  11. “Vote Democrat….It is easier than working for a living!”

    California is over populated with moron voters and they want to increase that number?
    Seems about right for a legislature full of ill educated illegals from the populated coast line.
    California is a lost cause! It is without morals, bankrupt, and poorly governed. She has no where to go but in the toilet and seems she is there this day.
    If you are a sane, conservative, Christian Republican you don’t have a chance. You are out numbered by morons and they are going to add to there numbers. You might just as well pack up and leave because the state is sinking. When she finally goes under is not if but when and it appears to be soon.

  12. CaliExpat says

    Sounds like it’s beyond time to organize with Colorado Republicans to build a permanent infrastructure to fight the Democrat party cancer and insanity…

    We need a Republican party Winston Churchill figure…. I nominate Tom McClintock…the unhinged Democrat mob has his district targeted anyways…he’d be more effective rallying conservatives anyways….

  13. showandtell says

    This is just to put more absentee ballots on the street — so to speak — for Dem operative ballot harvesting, which is a gateway drug to full-on voter fraud.

    Ordinarily you couldn’t count on a 17 year old to bother to vote, but guaranteed, a filled-in ballot will be produced once Dem activists spoon-feed (or worse) the 17 year old behind closed doors.

    And many of the spoon-feeding harvest-balloting activists are illegal aliens, as was unexpectedly reported recently by the L.A. Times (“DREAMers,” they were worshipfully called in the article).

  14. Boris Badenov says

    Evan Low was a crappy Mayor of Campbell, glad to see he’s continuing the trend in the State House.

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