Prop. 18, which would allow some 17-year-olds to vote, trailing

Students in caps and gowns line up at a high school graduation.
Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they turn 18 before the general election.
(Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

Proposition 18, which would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they turn 18 before the next general election, was trailing by more than a million votes early Wednesday.

The measure called on California to join at least 18 other states that allow some 17-year-olds to cast ballots, including red states such as Kentucky and Mississippi, as well as blue states such as Illinois and Maryland. More than 11.5 million ballots had been counted as of Wednesday morning, encompassing results from 99% of precincts.

Under current California law, residents must be 18 to vote in any election.

The ballot measure was endorsed by the California Democratic Party, along with party leaders Gov. Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Supporters argued that the measure would help encourage young Californians to engage in the political process, and provide a real-world understanding of what they learn in high school civics classes.

The California Republican Party opposed Proposition 18, along with the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. Opponents have argued that 17-year-olds should not be able to vote on complex tax and bond proposals that will not directly affect them, and they also question whether most high school students that age have enough maturity and life experience to take part in an election.


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The Democratic-controlled Legislature voted in June to place Proposition 18 on the ballot.

Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), one of the authors of the proposed amendment, said Proposition 18 was a “modest” effort to expand voting rights in California, since the 17-year-olds eligible to vote were close to 18 anyway. Mullin’s father, former South San Francisco Assemblyman Gene Mullin, first introduced the measure 16 years ago.