The voting age should be lowered to 16

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Alex Parker, Contributing Writer

The current political climate of America can be described as tumultuous.  2020 has been a year of incredible political activism and a year of hardship and sorrow.  Voting has never been more important, especially since this year is a presidential election.  This pivotal year in American history has drawn in youth to be active like never before.  As a result, young people are educating themselves about the most crucial matters of our time.  After all, the decisions being made by older generations in government will affect teens and children for a much longer period of time than it will affect the politicians involved.  Therefore, the voting age should be lowered to sixteen.  

“To me, sixteen is when kids start the transition to adults.  This is reflected in the law where students are eligible to drop out of school, can begin to seek employment and begin to drive in most states, so giving them access to one of the most fundamental rights in our country only makes sense.  Students that age are certainly educated enough to make an informed decision, and it would be consistent with the laws already established,” said senior Dylan Schor. 

 It is certainly true that sixteen is a landmark age.  Teenagers start to gain many of the same rights as adults, including legally driving and working in most states.  If teenagers are trusted with those responsibilities, then the ability to vote is surely something they can be trusted with as well.  If they can take the time and care to learn to drive properly, they can educate themselves on political issues.  After all, today, being an informed voter for young people involves surfing the internet and television and being active on social media, two things that teenagers are extraordinarily good at. 

“While teens are getting more and more engaged in politics at younger ages, the voting age should remain at eighteen.  False information spreads rapidly and adults are more likely to question it than teens,” said senior Susana Noto.  

However, it is worth noting that the difference between sixteen and eighteen is only two years.  Individuals’ ability to question the world around them is barely changing during those two years.  Rather, it happens earlier in adolescent development.  Additionally, adults do not necessarily question false information more or less often than teenagers do.  Many adults are not well-informed voters at all, due to lack of prowess in searching the internet or overall laziness.  

“The teens who would be voting would be no less qualified than adults, and there are studies to back that up.  However, there’s a strong argument to be made that this would essentially just double the vote of whatever the kids’ parents believe politically, as parents have a ridiculously powerful impact on the political beliefs of their kids, and that still applies at that age…I don’t think sixteen is old enough for most people to really be at least somewhat free of the political influence their family can have on them,” said senior Ian Miller.  

While it is true that parents have an impact on their kids’ political beliefs, that does not mean that said impact will disappear as time goes on.  Even as adults, people’s political beliefs tend to be in line with those of their parents.  And, any ordinary voter is always influenced by not just their parents, but also their peers, the media, and the candidates themselves.  The influence argument is difficult to prove because where does the influence end?  Most voters never vote in such a way that they are only counting their own independent opinion.  

“I think the voting age should be lowered.  I have been watching the presidential debates and I have also been watching multiple different news stations.  I know what is going on in the country, and I think I am very much capable of deciding which candidate would best fit my viewpoints.  I’m old enough where I have developed my own opinions, and voting would be the best way for me to express those opinions and influence our government,” said junior Gabrielle Gitman.  

Controversial issues in this election include racial inequality in the United States and the climate.  Because younger citizens will end up with the repercussions of our poor climate patterns, many youths are more educated and passionate about this issue than current voters.  The issues being debated by older people affect younger generations far more than they do the candidates themselves.  At the end of the day, lowering the voting age means more participants in our democratic voting system, which will lead to a better and fairer country that survives for the decades to come.