Teens deserve the right to vote

The voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16


Photo courtesy of flickr

Minors are passionate and politically active, and they should have the opportunity to elect officials and help shape our nation.

John McKimmy, Staff Writer

At the age of 16, we already trust teenagers to: drive, join a trade union, marry, consummate that marriage (in the state of Georgia), and leave home without parental consent. Among the many things they can’t do, though, is vote. Currently, our system limits voter registration to people over the age of 18, leaving out a potential voter base of 8 million voters according to the Census Bureau.

Minors are among the most politically active demographics in the nation, so why do we defer to legal adults when making political decisions that affect an entire nation? The voting age should be lowered to 16 because people who are given enough civil liberties to be self-sufficient should have a say in which laws govern their existence.

With massive youth-led protests in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Charleston Church shooting, Santa Clarita shooting, etc., it is becoming more and more evident that young people are eager to have a voice in the political discussion. 

When this is brought up as an argument for lowering the voting age, however, people usually claim that teenagers either aren’t responsible enough, can’t think for themselves, or aren’t informed enough to be making political decisions that affect everyone.

All of these reservations apply to adults too, though. There is nothing exempting adults from being irresponsible or uninformed. Are we supposed to administer some sort of test for voter registration that measures intangible traits like maturity, responsibility, and political awareness?

A poll conducted by Morning Consult found that 35% of adults didn’t know the difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act (don’t worry if you didn’t know either, there is none), so should they not have the right to determine their representatives? 

Restricting the right to vote based on arbitrary measures can also set a dangerous precedent. How long is it until we cut out the middle man and just require a certain income to vote?

I don’t think anyone would argue that there are great ancillary benefits to youth involvement in the political process, but there is no value in acknowledging young people’s opinions without giving them some level of self-determination.

People under the age of 18 right now have to live with the political decisions made by adults they can’t elect, but with their political activism they have demonstrated that they’re ready for the responsibility that comes with voting.