Scotts Valley teen says 'political oversight' keeping him, others from voting in 2020 primary

SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Teens are taking center stage in global movements like the recent Climate Strike and gun control. These youth-driven demonstrations prove age isn't stopping anyone.

However, current 17-year-olds in California, who will be 18 by the general election, are learning their age is exactly what's keeping them from casting ballots in the 2020 Primary Election.

In Scotts Valley, Ryan Beam would be the first to mention he's 17-and-a-half-years-old. He knows that "half" is not enough for the Scotts Valley High School senior to cast a Primary ballot in less than six months.

"I would be about a week too young to vote in the March 3 Primary Election," Beam told ABC7 News. "I asked around and I realized pretty quickly that was the case for a majority of my graduating class."

Beam will graduate with the Class of 2020.

His classmates, along with other young people around the globe, continue to capture the world's attention.

Because of his predicament, Beam is making a push to correct what he calls "political oversight."

He emphasized his effort is not to lower the voting age to 17.

Some background: in 2017, then-governor Jerry Brown moved the state's 2020 Presidential Primary from June to March 3. The change left some California teens in a gray area.

"We're really sort of in this turning point in our lives," Beam explained. "Where we're looking ahead to our future. Where we're figuring out what we want to do after high school, what we want to do as adults."

Beam has since written op-eds and has contacted assembly members. He wants to have a say in who ends up as the Democratic nominee.

"We're missing out on that," Beam said. "Despite the fact that we will get to vote for whoever the nominee is for either party."

He said the change is crucial, "We'll be adults for the duration of that person's presidency."

In the State Legislature, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4 (ACA-4) would allow anyone who would be 18 on the day of the general election to be able to participate in the corresponding primary.

"Politicians, they can choose to ignore protests or write them off, but they can't write off your vote," Beam added.

However, ACA-4 needs two-thirds approval from legislators before it can be put on the 2020 ballot.

Beam explained, "It's about being useful, exercising your rights and making change because you have the power to do so."

The 17-and-a-half-year-old said he's not considering a career in politics. Instead, he's planning to pursue engineering.

See more stories and videos about the 2020 presidential election.
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