California Assembly approves two state amendments lowering voting age
The California State Assembly approved two constitutional amendments in August that would reduce the state’s voting age from 18 to 17. If approved by the state Senate, voters could decide both amendments at California’s next statewide primary in March 2020.
One proposal—ACA 4—would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in that year’s primaries and special elections. Sixteen states allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in that year’s primaries.
The other proposal—ACA 8—would make California the first state in the nation to lower the voting age from 18 to 17 for all elections. If approved by voters, ACA 8 will go into effect for the November 3, 2020, general election.
According to an Assembly Floor Analysis from the Office of the Chief Clerk of the California Assembly, “Because the US Constitution only addresses abridging the right to vote and this measure expands voting rights there appears to be no conflict with the federal constitution. In an opinion dated April 12, 2004, the Legislative Counsel opined that an amendment to the California Constitution to permit a person under the age of 18 to vote would not violate federal law.”
Fifty-six Democrats and two Republicans voted for ACA 4. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat voted against it. Fifty-four Democrats and three Republicans voted for ACA 8. Thirteen Republicans and three Democrats voted against the measure. Both amendments needed a two-thirds majority—53 votes—to pass the state Assembly.
A two-thirds majority in the state Senate—27 votes—is needed to pass a constitutional amendment. The 40-member state Senate is composed of 29 Democrats and 11 Republicans. California is one of 16 states that requires a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber during one legislative session to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot.
The state Senate has not yet acted on either measure. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn Sept. 13.
Between 1995 and 2018, the California Legislature has asked voters to decide 32 constitutional amendments. Voters approved 27—or 84%—of those amendments.