Lower voting age to include teens

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Teen and adult ballots counted as one. Illustration by John deGeorge ’22

Every four years, we are all reminded of the significance of voting. Individuals commonly see online slogans made to popularize a candidate: “Vote for this person!”; “America depends on it!”; and “You have the power to choose our future!” In this time of social reckoning, the voting age must be lowered so that teenagers have the ability to voice their opinions on pressing issues.

Teenagers deserve the right to vote for myriad reasons. Firstly, if an individual has a job, there is no reason why you should not be able to vote. Around 20 percent of teenagers ages sixteen to seventeen had a summer job in 2020, which amounts to nearly two million sixteen to seventeen year olds. As we all know, working a job means you have to pay taxes. America was founded on the principle of “no taxation without representation,” so why aren’t we upholding this value?

Secondly, the people who are elected into office greatly impact the teenage population. Their political sway affects issues such as racism, voter suppression, the wage gap, lack of protection for immigrants, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, and the minimum wage. Additionally, teenagers see the impact of issues like climate change, healthcare and education even more profoundly than adults as teenagers are the ones who have to live through the world that they create

Sophomore Roberto Lopez says, “We need more young voices to have a say in what happens in this country, and lowering the voting age is the best way to achieve that.”

Arguments against lowering the voting age maintain that young people are too immature and socially unaware. However, eighteen was always an arbitrary age for voting. Clearly turning eighteen does not suddenly make an individual more politically aware. Additionally, neuroscientists from the University of Rochester confirmed that the brain does not fully mature until twenty five. So if maturity is the problem, the voting age should be twenty-five, but there is little support for such an argument.

In response to these arguments, social science teacher Orry Klainman says, “As someone who teaches sophomores, I think a 16-year-old is definitely capable of being a well-informed voter, and since they are affected by society, why shouldn’t they be able to vote? Over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of public activism by teenagers, which shows that they can be involved and have the capacity to be active members in our democracy.” We are all affected by the society we are in, and we should have the power to change things for the better. It’s time for young people in the United States to have a say in elections. It’s time to lower the voting age.

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