More than 27% of young Californians voted in 2018, an 8% increase from 2014, according to an NBC report of California civic engagement data.
That number could increase even more if Proposition 18 passes.
The proposition allows 17-year-old Californians to vote in primary and special elections if they will be 18 and eligible by the next general election.
Young Americans use social media platforms such as TikTok to amplify their thoughts and sentiments, from Black Lives Matter protests to organizing a mass false-registration movement for a Trump rally in Tulsa, Okla., where many seats were unfilled.
Many of them who participated in the mass false-registration movement were under the age of 18 and expressed that this was the only way to make their voices heard.
Proposition 18 comes at a critical moment to break the cycle of young Americans not voting and give 17-years-olds who want to participate the ability to do so.
NPR reports that there’s a political mindset among youth voters as to why they don’t show up to vote. Politicians promise change for them but don’t deliver once they are elected, thus disappointing young voters, and in return they stop showing up to vote.
If Prop 18 passes, it will allow teens who will be first time voters in an election cycle to participate from the beginning, which could increase voter participation and interest among Gen Z.
There are already many teens working and paying taxes, so giving them the ability to vote if they are eligible at 17 makes sense.
As well, there are at least 19 states, including Washington D.C., that allows 17-year-olds eligible to vote for the next general election.
Prop 18 can also be the first step to transform civic education in California schools.
Schools are currently structured by following the “bubble sheets civics,” meaning that schools focus their attention on teaching facts and figures about politics, government and history.
This type of approach doesn’t draw future young voters to become informed about current local and federal politics. Instead, it can deter young people from voting.
Voting can appear unnecessarily complicated for young people, but if teens at 17-years-old are allowed to participate in the voting process, they can realize that voting isn’t that hard.
Instead, it’s a great way for the voices of young Americans to be heard and make sure that change happens.
So, why not give 17-year-olds the opportunity to vote?