“Almost” does not count in most human activities — especially not in politics.
So if the right to vote only comes when you are 18 years old, then that right does not exist for anybody who is 17 going on 18, i.e. almost 18.
Passage of Proposition 18 would allow a 17-year-old to participate in primaries and any other elections held during the Election Year if they can prove that they will be 18 by the time of the general election.
In California, since the primaries are held approximately eight months before the final election, somebody of age 17 and four months could vote. One major problem has to do with the effect on primary elections.
Very simply, 17-year-old youngsters in California have been exposed during their formative years to a most liberal school system, so they have not had a chance to gain much experience beyond the education system.
Youngsters at that age are engaged gaining experience to develop the skills necessary to have a successful future life. We should not be burdening these young people to make fundamental decisions that may have a profound effect on their future as well as the rest of society.
Consider some specific issues regarding our own election process: The California election system has what is called the top-two primary system. That is, regardless of how many candidates are competing for a given position such as Assembly member or state Senator, only the top two vote getters in the primary election can make it into the general election.
If 17-year-olds get a chance to vote, that would certainly bias the top-two system, favoring the most liberal candidates.
In addition to selecting candidates, many primary elections also include financial matters such as school bonds and tax measures. Gaining knowledge on such issues requires a certain amount of living experience usually not possible for 17-year-old youngsters.
Also, from experience in primary elections, the percentage of eligible voters who vote is low, so many 17-year-old voters might allow high-school youngsters to decide such important issues for the rest of the population. These minors cannot effectively represent the general population.
As a matter of fact, this proposition should have been created to reflect reality and recognize that an increase in the age for voting so as to allow young voters time to gain enough experience to judge whether the doctrines inculcated in school are appropriate to the challenges involved.
This proposition is largely unfair for minority youngsters, who in certain localities represent a large part of the population. At age 17, with most of them still in school and living at home and not having faced the real world, they would be asked to make decisions that could influence their lives.
One may ask why stop at young voters? Why not apply the same principle to foreigners residing in our state so that they could vote in primaries if they can prove that they would become citizens by the time of the general election?
To illustrate the absurdity of such ideas, consider the census. Should a mother expecting a child eight months before the end of the census year be able to count that child as a member of the population when allocating congressional seats?
Finally, as already noted there is also a fiscal effect that has been calculated to be in the millions-of-dollars range in order to verify ages and implement the changes.
We are already burdened by enough taxes; we do not need additional expenses to try to lengthen the stay in power of politicians. Proposition 18 will in no way improve the life of California citizens, and its only purpose is political advantage.
Any proposition created by politicians should be analyzed under a microscope.
Vote “no” on Proposition 18.
The author is a Santa Barbara resident.