A question that’s been asked by many people of all ages is: “Should the voting age be lowered?” Right now, you can vote at the age of 18, but there are debates and campaigns on lowering that age to 16. In 1971, the United States the validated the 26th amendment, which prohibits the states and the federal government from using age as a reason for denying the right to vote to citizens for the United States who are at least eighteen years old. People want to acknowledge this rule, but include it for 16 year olds.

There are plenty of pros to letting 16 year olds vote. Letting this happen means more votes and more voices being heard, resulting in it becoming more democratic. The voter turnout would most likely increase. The voter turnout in the United States is currently 50-60 percent. Including two more years worth of voters would most likely boost that percentage at least 10%.

The youth of America pay taxes and live under the laws, so why shouldn’t they be allowed to vote? Youth pay taxes through sales taxes from things like clothes and food. Most high schoolers, about 80% of them, work before they graduate high school, meaning that they pay taxes before receiving their paycheck. If these high schoolers are doing the same things adults are doing, why aren’t they allowed to vote like these adults?

18 years old is such a hard age for teens. At they age they are rightfully called “independent” and start doing things like leaving home, going to college, and going away to look for work. They’re busy and have plenty going on there lives that don’t have to do with politics or local issues. At 16, students are still well into school and have a great appreciation for local issues, and would be more focused on it.

A ballot booth at the polling station in Wyoming Indian High School’s Tech Center in Ethete, Wyoming. Credit: Lindsay D’Addato. Photo from flickr.
A ballot booth at the polling station in Wyoming Indian High School’s Tech Center in Ethete, Wyoming. Credit: Lindsay D’Addato. Photo from Flickr.

Some adults do things that aren’t considered smart, like drinking alcohol or overdosing drugs or not paying their taxes, and other things. Even though there are some teens that do that, there are actually a lot of smart kids on top of their class or doing well in school that deserve to vote more than those adults who are misinformed and uneducated and are making bad choices. Why shouldn’t these smart teens be allowed to vote over these adults that shouldn’t be allowed to vote, just because of their age?

Even though there are plenty of reasons why 16 year olds should be allowed to vote, there are also plenty of reasons why they shouldn’t. Younger people tend to be easily persuaded. Due to lack of experience, they could be easily manipulated by someone supporting a bad campaign, and these teens could believe these supporters because they don’t know the real backstory or understand the candidate’s history. They also might not be mature enough.

Some teens are informed, but others aren’t. The ones that aren’t have not been exposed to the real world experience in the same way that adults have, and might not really know about the government until they learn about it later on in school. This is why it would be a bad idea to have younger teens vote, because they might not actually understand what they’re voting for.

There are many people in the world that have different opinions on this topic, so I asked some Malden High School students how they felt about it. Angelina Schorr is a freshman at Malden High. She thinks that lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 wouldn’t do much because she knows many young people aren’t really involved in politics so they would decide not to vote. 16 is a little too young, some 16 year olds are still sophomores in high school; they probably don’t know how to vote correctly or what makes a candidate a good or bad candidate. When asked if she would vote at 16 if she were able to, she said she probably wouldn’t because she doesn’t like to get involved in politics too much because she’s not so great at understanding it and what makes a candidate ideal.

Julia Argueta is another freshman at Malden High. She personally believes that the youth have a lot more to say about politics than people think. Many want to have their voices heard and not just stand by while other people vote for their future.

“Yes, 16 is a young age, and some may think that their voice may be childish and uneducated, but it’s worth a shot,” Argueta stated. When asked if she would vote at 16 if she had the ability to, she explain that “yes [she] would vote at 16,” asking, “why not fulfill [her] responsibilities as a citizen and take part in who will run the country in which [she] live[s] in.”

Rebecca Corcoran is a teacher at Malden High. She provided us with her perspective as an adult that would be seeing 16 year olds vote, and she actually would love to see that happen. She thinks it’s a great idea. “The old saying that teens don’t care about politics is dead,” she stated. She said that with the media and social media teens are actually learning and are caught up with what is going in the election and with candidates because about politics is all over the internet. She believes that 16 year olds voting would be a great way to represent the population.

There are people all over the country and in our very own school that think lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 is a good idea. There are also people that think it’s a bad idea. Either way, this is still an issue discussed every day somewhere around the country. We don’t know if there is going to be a bigger outburst about this notion, or if it will keep quiet, but we will find out sooner or later.

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