Op-Ed: Support California Youth When Voting on Ballot Measures

This year’s convergence of crises has had a devastating impact on almost everyone in our state. We came into this year battling rampant economic and social inequity in addition to a housing unaffordability crisis, both of which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic fallout.

These events have had an acutely devastating impact on our most vulnerable communities and young people, who were already struggling to make ends meet.

Young Californians have been at the forefront of fighting back against the injustices and shortcomings that the pandemic has exposed and intensified.

In Los Angeles and Oakland when our teachers went on strike to demand fair pay and benefits in the face of extreme costs of living, many students joined them on the picket line. As our state burns in-part due to the effects of climate change, young people have been relentless in organizing for climate justice. As our Black and Brown peers face a racist criminal justice system that takes far too many lives, students took to the streets to demand the dismantling of abusive and racist policing.

Now we need you to stand with us at the ballot box. This election’s ballot measures address some of the most important issues we face as a state.

When you cast your vote, remember that you are setting policy for future generations. Please vote YES on these ballot measures.

Prop. 15 will provide a much-needed boost in funding to schools and essential government services by fairly taxing the wealthiest corporations in the state who have been getting a free ride for far too long. California currently lags behind most of the nation in education funding and the effects of this are felt severely in the most disadvantaged communities.

Prop. 16 addresses the steep racial inequities in education and the workplace by allowing race-conscious affirmative action. Prop 16 would not institute discriminatory quotas, rather its passage will ensure equal opportunity for all Californians.

Prop. 17 would reinstate voting rights for those on parole, an essential step toward fixing the systemic racism and injustice of the criminal justice system.

Prop. 18 would allow people old enough to vote in the general election to vote in the preceding primary while they are still 17. This is a common-sense step to ensure young voters can participate in both stages of California elections. States which have already taken this step have seen an increase in political participation from young people.

Prop. 21 would allow local communities to enact farther reaching rent control laws on certain homes while still ensuring new construction is not disincentivized and landlords can get a fair profit. This is urgently necessary to combat the crisis of displacement facing many California communities. Families being priced out of homes is especially harmful to young people who are uprooted from schools and communities and suffer significant setbacks in their education when displaced and expanded local rent control is vital for protecting the most vulnerable families and communities.

Prop. 25 replaces money bail with a risk-assessment system. Though this change is flawed and still presents serious risks of racial bias, it is preferable to the current cash bail system which penalizes poor Black and Brown Californians with long pretrial jail time when they are not even convicted of a crime.

Additionally, there are some measures on this year’s ballot that take California in the wrong direction. Please vote NO on these propositions.

Prop. 20 reintroduces ridiculously high sentences for nonviolent offenses. At a time when we need to be moving away from racist mass incarceration policies this is exactly the wrong step to take.

Prop. 22 is an attempt by corporations, namely Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and Postmates, to undo labor protections for gig workers. These companies have spent over $180 million in support of the measure. This attempt by corporations to buy our California elections is wrong, as is the stripping of vital worker protections.

Rohin Ghosh is a co-chair of the Santa Clara County High School Democrats and the policy director of the California High School Democrats. He is active in several local and state campaigns and advocacy projects, especially relating to housing justice. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected].


  1. Could not agree more with these recommendations. Very well detailed breakdown and reasoning for these choices as well.

    I think the least we can do is give our young people a shot at running the planet for a change. Us older folk can’t really say we’ve left it in the best shape so far!

  2. So proud of young people in our community taking the time to read, understand and advocate for positions to improve thier situation and those of vulnerable populations. Great job, Rohin!

  3. With the collection of absurdities young Mr. Ghosh has constructed a compelling argument for raising the voting age to twenty-five, an age consistent with common sense and brain maturity (as established by modern science). Too bad this young man is spending his learning years convinced he has wisdom to share. His family, teachers, and culture have cheated him and this nation.

  4. > Too bad this young man is spending his learning years convinced he has wisdom to share.

    And WHO so erroneously and irresponsibly led young Mr. Ghosh to believe that he has any wisdom about anything to share with anyone?

    Public school teachers.

    Education malpractice and child abuse.

    For his health and safety, I hope the public education quacks didn’t try to convince young Ghosh that he knows how to pack a parachute and skydive, or wrestle crocodiles.

  5. Gosh Mr. Ghosh,
    I can’t think of anything other than voting for these propositions that will destroy what’s left of California that would have helped young people. By driving up cost’s of everything, driving out job’s, and creating opportunity crime zones.

    As Mr. Phu Tan explained so well, we should consider adjusting up the voting age till common sense or the ability to pass a civics and economics test has been met.

    Maybe that should be a requirement for everyone voting.

  6. Did my civic duty and voted my mail-in ballot.

    What a dreadful election.

    Voted for:
    – – three candidates.
    – – nineteen ballot measures:
    > YES 2
    > NO 17

    Mostly meaningless, deceitful, special interest junk.

    Somebody wants something from the public trough and hired an expensive consultant to craft a “narrative” that is just vague and confusing enough to avoid outright perjury or libel.

  7. Rohin: I join the first three commentators above in applauding your efforts to achieve progressive change, part of which is necessarily electoral work and public advocacy, including editorial and opinion pieces like the one above.

    The remainder of commentators are part of the regular caucus of perpetual pontification–mostly right, mostly libertarian, usually secular, sometimes delusional and almost always lacking evidence to support their positions and claims. While it is important that they and everyone have equal access to public and civic discussion and debate, it is essential to point out the fundamental defects in their arguments and perspectives.

    A case in point is the view of several of them that high school students don’t have the brain power–or experience–as to be able to engage in public issue advocacy one way or the other. I attended a public high school in California in the mid-1970s and, in my personal experience with present-day high school and university students, there is no doubt that they are generally better educated and more socially and politically aware than were me and my cohorts. My direct experience as an involved parent is that public school education in California these days is appreciably better, certainly more rigorous in almost every respect, compared to my own experience.

    Kudos to the efforts of tens of thousands of public school teachers and educators who are helping in the formation of a cadre of promising young people, like Rohin. As a community, we are indebted.

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