CLCV, Youth Activists, and Elected Officials Rally to Support Lowering the Voting Age

Press Release
August 13, 2019

CONTACT:
Erin Ivie, Full Court Press Communications
[email protected] / 510-550-8172

Youth Activists and Elected Officials Rally to Support Lowering the Voting Age

SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and co-authors of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 rallied at the State Capitol on Tuesday with youth activists from across California ahead of a key Assembly Appropriations Committee vote. The rally preceded a day of advocacy by 60 young people and a staff briefing on the scientific evidence behind lowering the voting age by Harvard researcher and UC Davis visiting lecturer Dr. Bapu Vaitla.

“I am thrilled that our movement to lower the voting age has generated so much momentum,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “Voters in California are ready for bold ideas in order to reinvigorate participation in our democracy.”

Young voters (ages 18-24 years old) in California have the lowest turnout rate of any age demographic, leaving them drastically underrepresented. In the 2018 midterm elections, less than one-third of California’s eligible young adults voted. This is often because 18 year-olds are in a time of transition—graduating from high school, going to college, or find a job. Lowering the voting age to 17 will catch youth a time when they are still connected to their school, their home, and their community.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed support for lowering the voting age earlier this year, and 126 Members of Congress voted to support an amendment to HR 1, the “For the People Act,” that would lower the federal voting age from 18 to 16.

Research from places around the world—including Austria, Scotland, and Norway, as well as U.S. municipalities like Takoma Park, Hyattsville, and Greenbelt, Maryland—suggests that lowering the voting age to 16 or 17 has powerful effects on youth voter turnout and civic engagement.

Mary Creasman, Executive Director of the California League of Conservation Voters, joined Low and others, noting, “Young people are the leading voices on addressing the climate crisis. They’ve organized, they’ve marched, and they want to have a say in who represents them in government. There could not be a more critical time to empower youth with the right to vote.”

In 2017, ACA 10 (Low) failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass. With 35 co-authors, over 50 coalition partners, and bipartisan support, ACA 8 is in better shape than ever to clear the Assembly Floor. If passed by both houses of the legislature by June 2020, lowering the voting age will appear on the November 2020 ballot.

Comments from Co-Authors & Coalition Partners:

“Our democracy is its strongest when our citizenry proactively participates in voting. It is indisputable that young-adults vote less than any other demographic. By lowering the voting age to 17 we are not only investing in our future, but also promoting civic engagement at a critical time in their lives.” — Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove)

“Democracy is not a spectator sport. As we put high school seniors through government and civics education, their very first vote is typically a popularity contest for prom king and queen. This is the wrong lesson to send to the next generation. Students are too smart and have too much at stake to leave them on the sidelines until they leave their high school and their hometown, where elections matter most. Every high school senior should have to opportunity to have a real say in the future of their community and their country.” – Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park)

“Our youth feel the impacts of our policy decisions and deserve a right to help shape them. Allowing 17 year olds to vote will also strengthen our democracy by engaging a new generation in our civic life.” – Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)

“It is our social responsibility to shape the next generation. In California, Latinxs are projected to make up nearly half of California’s population by 2030—this means Latinxs wield a ton power in shaping Democracy. As part of our efforts to increase Latinx voter turnout, we need to encourage our Latinx youth to be civically engaged. There are many barriers that prevent our Latinx youth from meaningfully participating in the civil process. ACA 8 would address some of these barriers by lowering the voting age to 17, increasing voter turnout, developing lifelong voting habits, and most importantly, allowing our next generation of Latinx leaders to have a voice in the laws that affect their lives.” – Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta)

“Allowing 17 year olds the right to vote will provide them the opportunity to experience the power of voting while they’re still in high school, instilling how essential it is to make your voice heard at the ballot box. We must take a more holistic approach to civic education, and ACA 8 brings this to the voters.” – Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)

“Engaging young voters in our political process will ensure more Californians are represented in government. ACA 8 will empower our next generation of leaders so they have a say in their future” – Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco)

"LGBTQ young people are too often left out and left behind by the political process. That's why Equality California strongly supports Assemblymember Low's ACA 8, which will lower the voting age and empower young LGBTQ Californians to get engaged in our democratic process earlier. California must continue to be a beacon of hope to the rest of the country by enabling young people to take their fight for civil rights and social justice to the ballot box." – Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California

“The UC Student Association is proud to support ACA 8. We know, from first-hand experience, that 18-year-olds are often too busy with moving, finding a job, or beginning their college educations to register to vote. Furthermore, many of our incoming class of students are yet to be 18 at the time of their arrival, which makes most of our college civic engagements and voter outreach efforts unable to reach them. ACA 8 would allow most young Californians to begin voting in high school — fostering a mindset of civic engagement that will continue throughout their lives.” – Varsha Sarveshwar, UCSA Government Relations Chair

“Young people, like myself, have been building social movements for gun reform, Black Lives Matter, and environmental justice. Our advocacy has fallen on deaf ears and it is time that we take our advocacy to the polls. ACA 8 is a crucial first step to expand voting rights to ensure young people have a voice in shaping the policies that will impact our future and quality of life.” — Tyler Okeke, Power California Youth Organizer and former LAUSD Student Board Member

"NextGen Policy strongly supports expanding our democracy and making it more inclusive, especially through removing barriers to the ballot box. The earlier in life a person votes, the more likely they are to form a lifelong habit of voting. Allowing 17-year-olds access to participate in our democracy is an important step in creating the next generation of empowered, civically engaged citizens.” – NextGen California

"Lowering the voting age will strengthen our democracy and we are proud to stand with the coalition supporting ACA 8. Voting is a habit, and lowering the voting age helps ensure that young people can cast their first ballot at a time when they are in a much better position to establish that habit and become lifelong voters. We are proud to support youth-led efforts to lower the voting age on the local, state, and national levels and urge all California state legislators to support ACA 8." – Brandon Klugman, Vote16USA Campaign Manager.

“Here in Maryland, four cities have now reduced the voting age, and the results have been wonderful. Teenagers are turning out to vote at higher rates than any other age group, and these youth are growing up with a habit of active and responsible citizenship they take with them as they grow older. Some teenaged voters are even inspiring their non-voting parents to move past a lifetime of cynicism and to participate themselves. This reform is rejuvenating democracy.” – Bill Bystricky, Growing Democracy

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