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Lowering the voting age would provide better representation for young Americans

Young voters should have a chance to decide which candidates will be their future leaders.

by Sophy Silva, Staff Writer

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In 1971, 18 year olds across the country rejoiced as they received the right to vote after the 26th amendment was passed. This was not an easy decision for leaders to make, and many wanted the minimum voting age to stay 21, which is classified the official age where one reaches adulthood. While I feel like this was a great decision for the time, it is 2017 and there needs to be voting rights for those who are 16 and older.

At age 16, one can get their driver’s license, apply for a job, donate blood and even move away from home without a parent’s permission. However, they still have to wait another two years until they can participate in a municipal, primary or national election. If the United States is a democracy and wants equal representation for the variety of Americans, then why is it looked down upon to have younger voters?

Probably the biggest reason why some may say that the voting age should be kept at 18 is that some 16- and 17-year-olds cannot handle the responsibility of this privilege. Teenagers are often told that they are irresponsible and cannot make decisions for themselves. This issue is not new, and there has always been negativity towards the views of younger people. How can adults even blame younger people for ruining the country when they cannot even vote yet?

Secondly, not all adults are mature and fully informed either, so judging an entire age group based on the stereotype that they are irresponsible is not acceptable. Some adults feel like they have to vote and choose a random candidate without even thinking much about what they stand for. They may also choose not to participate in elections as well, if they think that their votes will not make a difference or just do not feel like participating.

While there is a difference between being 12 and 18, there is much less of a difference between 16 and 18. A 16 or 17 year old has many of the same responsibilities as somebody who is 18, with only a few more restrictions and less legal rights. Also, a person’s maturity level depends on the individual, not everyone in their age group.

Another reason is that they believe that younger voters will not be well-informed enough about politics because they do not have much real-life experience. A generalization cannot be made that all 16 and 17 year olds are not informed, and their level knowledge depends on the individual as well. There is also coverage of the candidates all over social media and television, so this generation has more exposure to different perspectives and multiple sources than previous generations.

A 16 or 17 year old who has a job is probably paying income taxes to the government at the federal, state and local level. A portion of their paycheck goes to the government, yet they have no say on which officials will be elected to represent the country. In a way, they are contributing to the government by giving them a portion of their income.

Lowering the voting age to 16 would also help with participation in elections, since there would be more potential eligible voters. This could ultimately affect the election’s outcome, if many of the 16- and 17-year-olds decided to cast votes. The 2016 election had a very low voter turnout, and I feel that there might have been more participation if the voting age was lowered.

It could also increase representation and could provide new insights for the country. Teenagers have some different views than those who are older than them and could help elect leaders that would help make a difference for their age group. Some candidates and politicians discuss issues that teens face today, such as student loans, taxation, and policies regarding their rights.

Lowering voting rights could potentially get young people interested in politics, which provides potential future government leaders. With leaders who are more well-informed, they could make decisions to help provide for younger Americans.

While the voting age may not be lowered below 18 during my lifetime, it is important to teach young people that their political opinions matter and are just as important as those of older people. Never let anybody tell you that your viewpoints on issues going on in the world should be kept silent.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Lowering the voting age would provide better representation for young Americans”

  1. Kailee Ford on February 3rd, 2017 2:10 pm

    I really liked this opinion piece. I am only 15 right now, but I care so much as to what happens the country I was born in. During the 2016 election, I was watching the news pretty much every night to see what the candidates were doing. So, I agree that the voting age should be lowered to 16 as well.

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Lowering the voting age would provide better representation for young Americans