Californians could start voting at age 17

Posted at 10:46 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 02:23:05-04

California teens may no longer have to wait until their 18th birthday to vote.

A new proposal would lower the voting age by a year.

Almost half of the states allow 17 year-olds to vote in some way, but many question teen's understanding of politics.

"I was super excited to vote because 2016 was a super huge election year," said Andrew Levora, a Cal Poly junior.

Andrew Levora says he registered to vote weeks before his 18th birthday.

"Finally our voices were going to be heard and it finally gave me a reason to actually get educated on the candidates and the political system," said Levora.

Two constitutional amendments making their way through the state assembly would lower the voting age to 17.

"I'm looking forward to it but I would need more research," said Bethany Hartnell, a 17-year-old from San Luis Obispo.

One amendment, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4 would mean Californians could vote in primary or special elections if they are 18 by the general election.

The other, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, would allow 17-year-olds to vote in all elections.

This local high school senior says she and her friends are not ready to cast a vote.

"It's a little bit sensitive so I don't think many people enjoy talking about it," said Hartnell. "I talk about it sometimes with my friends, it's just not something that usually pops up in my personal conversation."

Others agree saying the vote is strongly influenced by parents.

"I don't think you have enough responsibility on your own to know what the consequences of those things are," said Mary Hwass-Haw, a Morro Bay resident. "You are still in a time where you are being parented."

Some worry young minds are too easily swayed by social media.

"A lot of [Generation X] and Millennials are on social media all the time and constantly being bombarded with these new targeted ads, it's rather scary honestly to see how many people can be persuaded a certain way," said Levora.

The Committee adopted the legislation Wednesday and is on its way to the state house floor for another vote.

The initiatives are moving to the next phase, but would need voter approval in order to take effect.

A similar amendment was proposed in California in 2017, but did not pass.