Among the many ballot measures on California’s November ballot this year, is Proposition 18, which would allow those who are old enough to vote by the November general election to vote in the primary election earlier that year.
I’m supporting Prop 18 for many reasons: fairness, strengthening our democracy, and helping California grow new leaders that reflect our ever-changing state.
Proposition 18 is about letting people participate in the entire election.
Other than a few competitive seats (as well as some deep blue seats that have Dem vs. Dem general elections), most elections are won in the primary. A candidate who wins the primary in a district where most voters support their party will coast to a win in the November general election.
County Elections often only have a Primary.
For county level offices such as County Supervisor, Judge, or Sheriff — the primary election often is the only election. If one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, they are elected and there is no runoff in November.
For example, this year, Alameda County has 3 County Supervisor seats up for election, but only one seat is on the November ballot. In the other two, a candidate got a majority and the election is over.
Many other states understand this, and since the 1980s, 18 states and Washington DC have passed laws to allow 17-year olds who will be 18 by the general election to vote in the primary.
Proposition 18 is about strengthening democracy by building a habit of voting.
Voting is habit-forming: someone who votes once is more likely to vote again in future elections. For people turning 18, it’s much easier to form that habit in the spring, when they’re in the last year of high school, versus in the fall, when they’re just starting a job or college, often in a different city.
Campaigns focus on “high-propensity voters” — people who have voted in each of the last few elections. These voters get more phone calls, more flyers on the door and in the mail, and unsurprisingly show up to vote more.
On the other hand, someone who hasn’t voted yet gets ignored by campaigns, fails to show up, and stays on that ignore list. They sometimes end up with the attitude that politicians don’t listen to them and that voting doesn’t matter.
In the 2016 presidential election, there were more people who were eligible to vote who didn’t vote than there were people who voted for the winning candidate. This also happens in state and local elections. The best way to break this cycle is to keep it from starting in the first place, by having more people’s first election take place at a point in their life where they’re more plugged into their community.
Proposition 18 is about bringing in new people and ideas into politics.
Not only are people who vote once more likely to vote again, but they’re also more likely to be brought into the clubs and organizations that keep civic participation running behind the scenes.
For this reason and others, people who vote are also more likely to participate in other ways, whether it’s helping on a campaign, serving on a board or commission, running an organization, or running for office themselves.
I was involved in politics in high school, and by the time I turned 18, I had been part of many clubs and had written opinion pieces in both the school and local papers — exactly the kind of grassroots leader that campaigns would want to reach to get access to dozens of other voters.
However, as most high school seniors weren’t 18 yet, we weren’t a group that campaigns reached out to. A few people were more involved because they had a relative who was interested in politics, but for people like me who were the first in the family to grow up in the US, we were off the radar. In contrast, if Prop 18 passes, high school seniors would be a group of hundreds to thousands of voters in each town that no candidate could afford to ignore.
The U.S. is a democracy, but politics is still often a family business, with familiar last names that often don’t reflect the changing communities they represent. Prop 18 is one of many steps towards changing that.
Young people have been keeping our democracy alive. Let’s give them full participation. #YesOn18.
Now more than ever, with older people staying home to stay safe, young people are keeping our democracy going. They’re filling in for essential jobs, signing up to count households in the Census, running around town to collect signatures for candidate filing, and staffing polling places during elections.
High school students have also been leaders in many political movements, whether it’s protecting the environment or expanding civil rights. We are all stronger when more participate.
This November, vote Yes on Proposition 18. https://www.yeson18.vote/