EDITORIAL: Prop 18 rejection silences young voters, hurts future

Results of the 2020 election have left many in shock and many overjoyed. This election has taken a huge toll on the emotions of many and has stirred up conversations that may have been difficult in the past. The ballot brought about topics that have been in the spotlight for many years, including Proposition 18.

A yes on Proposition 18 meant it would allow 17-year olds who will be 18 by the time of the next general election to vote in primary and special elections. It meant that students will be familiar with the voting process prior to their freshman year of college, which the Coast Report Editorial Board unanimously supported. 

However, California voters have rejected Proposition 18 with 44.9% of supportive votes (5,320,403), and 55.1% (6,528,898) of voters opposing it on the state level. If the proposition had passed, it would have meant that students would be able to familiarize themselves with the voting process by being able to participate in it. This would allow 17-year olds – the future generation of voters – to be actively involved with our country’s politics from an early age and have a say in determining their future sooner. 

Opponents said that 17-year-old voters are not mature or experienced enough to vote on tax proposals and bond debt measures that would not affect them directly. They also question their maturity, and in an Los Angeles Times article, Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. said that even those who have voted for years have a difficult time understanding the complexities of the ballot measures. 

However, if young voters were able to be involved, it would not only encourage them to learn about politics, but literally give them a hands-on learning experience with it. By changing the voting age and the system currently in place, it would also extend their school education to further teach them about policies and laws that affect them. 

Teenagers are already educating themselves by getting involved in protests revolving around social justice and racism as well as posting on social media to share their opinions. It's important to welcome young voters into the political world instead of disregarding their opinion because of their age. Promoting and talking about voting and its process at a young age is proven to increase voter turnout in the youth category.

The primary elections are held in early February, which is nine months ahead of the general elections. The eligible 17-year-old voters would have the opportunity to gain knowledge and a sense of understanding of how democracy operates. 

To judge the next generation solely based on the age they are, is ridiculous, not to mention ageist. There are many students in high school who are already in the workforce. Some are enrolled in on-going internships, pre-college classes, and JROTC programs.

Proposition 18 was meant to include the voice of youths. The younger generation is more prepared than the older generation gives them credit for. These 17-year olds are more likely to and prepared to change the future for the better and make the changes happen for the world that they want to live in.

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