Lower the voting age to 16

Lucy Fagan and Lauren Vierra

At 16, youth are expected to take on more responsibility in the push to become independent, productive individuals. They are legally able to work, drive, and pay taxes. But the one thing they can’t do, like a legal adult, is vote.

Many high school students will turn 18 during the tenure of a president that they didn’t elect; they should have a say in deciding who will lead and govern their futures.     

The idea that the president will pass laws that may effect their lives would give them a powerful incentive to vote responsibly; if the student dosenʻt care when they are 16, they probably wonʻt care later when they turn 18 and can legally vote.

This would allow teenagers who do care to have a voice and feel empowered. Often times, people under the age of 18 feel like they shouldnʻt care because they donʻt even have the opportunity to do anything with their opinion. This, however, would inspire them to educate themselves and get involved.

Lowering the voting age would also increase voter turnout. The United States has a notoriously low turnout among the youth and this would help students understand the political process in an authentic and realistic way.

According to census.gov, voter turnout has increased in adults 18-29 by 16% since the 2014 election; this brings the total turnout in this age group from 20% to 36%. While the number has grown, it still does not compare to the 60% voter turnout of 45-64 year-olds in the 2018 election. Letting teenagers vote would inspire a civic duty to get involved and push voter turnout.

One argument against lowering the voting age is that most 16-year-olds have minimal life experience. They have not lived on their own and, in many cases, have not dealt with things such as working, balancing a budget and paying taxes; in short, they are less educated.

By this argument, however, what makes an 18-year-old more qualified than a 16-year-old? Many 18-year-olds have not experienced these situations either. They also lack experience. One could also argue that many 22-year-olds also lack life experience.

Voting is a right. If a student is not educated and does not care, they donʻt have to vote, but if they do, certain requirements could be put in place to ensure students understand the system and their responsibilities. A voting test could be taken while registering to vote and would be similar to a driving test.

18-year-olds are not adults — they just happen to be considered that by law. Lowering the voting age will empower students to take an active interest in the issues that will impact their futures. Tell your legislators you’re ready to vote!