Commentary

Publisher’s Ink: Lowering the voter age would bring more uninformed voters to the polls

By From page A5 | May 03, 2017

California Democrat Assemblyman Evan Low representing Cupertino has authored a constitutional amendment allowing 17-year-olds to vote. Of course the amendment would have to be approved by a statewide vote.

California already allows 16-year-olds to pre-register and 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they are 18 by Election Day.

“It’s really about civics and the habits and patterns of democracy and making sure people are engaged in their government,” Low said in an article appearing in The Mercury News.

Low was just 22 when he was elected to the Campbell City Council. Now at 33 he’s campaigning to push millennials like himself to participate in government. He’s joined by Republican Assemblyman Phillip Chen of Brea as a co-sponsor to Amendment 10. On the surface this appears to be a highly civic-minded approach to increasing voter turnout and getting younger folks engaged in the election process.

Below the surface it’s a questionable attempt at garnering more support for the Democrats social agenda in the state.

If by lowering the voting age to 17 the assemblyman is saying these younger participants are mature enough to make legislative decisions that affect the lives of all Californians then why stop there? Shoot the works and lower the voting age requirement to 16, 15 or 14.

“Extending the right to vote will help them engage in the democratic process,” Low mentioned in the same article referring to 17-year-olds.

His real concern is voter apathy among young people. Millennials and those following right behind them are more engaged with playing Pokemon and other mindless video games than they are with political issues. Like many of today’s snowflakes, they’re unaware of the world around them.

If California voters decide to change the Constitution in 2018 then the state should seriously consider making history a mandatory class. It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed teenagers are today. Asking basic questions on civics, current events or the three branches of government brings blank stares to the eyes of most.

Empowering younger voters to participate in the political process might sound great to legislators but are these same potential voters adept enough to understand the issues they’re voting on?

Lowering the voter age will only add to the already high number of uninformed voters going to the polls. Just navigating the confusing way ballot measures are written is enough to make an adult’s head spin. Enter junior with very little skin in the game and believing the wacky ranting of college professors and you see where this is heading.

Getting voters to the polls is another challenge and making Election Day a state holiday is another one of Assemblyman Low’s initiatives. Including this little helpful nugget in Amendment 10 almost guarantees support from government employees. Who in the public sector wouldn’t want another paid day off to go vote?

In the event the ballot measure passes, state politicians and the creator of the Pokemon video game might consider teaming up. Just think of how voter turnout would be impacted if gamers could capture a Pokemon at every polling location on Election Day. They earn extra points playing this popular video game as they vote on taxes and spend measures we real adults must pay for.

Richard Esposito is the publisher of Village Life and the Mountain Democrat.

Richard Esposito

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