Eye of the Editors: Voting in the primaries

Opinion: Seventeen year olds should be allowed to vote in the primaries if they will be 18 by the 2020 presidential election.

With the 59th presidential election just around the corner, high schoolers who are turning 18 before Nov. 3 can  finally have their voices heard. However, in California, primaries are a different story. It is unreasonable that 17-year-olds, including many seniors at Diamond Bar High School, cannot vote in the state primaries even if they will be 18 by the general election.

In primaries or any equivalent events, voters in each state choose the presidential candidate they want on the November ballot. This November, voters may get to  decide whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution that will reverse this. California should join the 17 other states that have put 17-year-old primary voting into practice and bring the state’s younger generation into the political arena. The amendment is still being debated by legislative committees. 

Today, many high school teens are filled with political passion and knowledge about civics and the current government. A study conducted by the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science discovered that on measures of “civic knowledge, political skills, political efficacy, and tolerance,” teens as young as 16 are earning scores competitive to those of adults. Although opposers may believe that teens in this gray zone are not knowledgeable enough to have a say in this subject, teens with a genuine interest in politics demonstrate a mindset well-developed enough to make an informed decision for their ideal future country. 

Allowing these teens to access the primary polls will give a younger voice to the overall election. Giving teens the chance to start voting in the preliminary rounds could potentially create a healthy, lifelong habit of voting. This encourages the younger generation to take the time and effort to be politically aware since they know they can make a change. 

As their votes support certain policies and leaders, remembering to take a trip to the polls every time election dates roll around will only further strengthen representation for young adults in America. 

In addition, prohibiting this demographic from choosing a candidate in the primaries would also discourage them from voting in the main elections since the chosen presidential candidate’s ideas and values may not be representative of those of the entire voting population in the general election. 

It is important that students learn early on the importance of participating in building a nation they can trust and respect in the future.

According to CBS News, youth voters, ages 18-29, have become a large part of the voting force in the 21st century, as 52 percent of participants in the 2008 election were that under-30 group of voters. However, the youth voter turnout in the 2016 election dramatically decreased to 31 percent. Yet it is only a matter of time before Generation Z becomes the largest, and most influential, group of voters. Starting these teens early at the polls will increase their knowledge and experience in weighing in on issues that could affect their lives for years to come. 

Although it may sound cliche, every vote does count, and preventing 17-year-olds with birthdays before the general election date from voting in the primaries is inefficient. 

With the support and interest of the younger teen population of voters, America will be able to flourish and become a more diverse, equal and accepting land of opportunity; therefore, the state’s  amendment that would allows 17-year-olds to vote in the primary should be put into practice.