No life experience, illegitimate votes

Jillian Schudiske, News Editor

 In a nation of over three hundred million people, United States citizens eighteen years or older are, under most circumstances, permitted to vote. Whether voting in  local elections or for something as important as the President of the United States, a minimum age restriction limits the voting rights only to legal adults. While 18 seems to be the age when people are mature enough to cast a vote, much of America’s youth is politically involved and have intellectual views regarding issues that are voted on.  Thus, the voting age should be lowered to 16.

In recent years, a significant proportion  of political issues are being addressed via protests, marches and rallies that have been led by a younger generation. 

In 2018, high school students across the nation organized a “walk out” of class for seventeen minutes to not only honor the seventeen students killed in Parkland, Florida, and other lives lost to school shootings, but to protest against gun violence in schools across the country. Teenagers have been increasingly politically active, so if they are going out of their way to make social change, they should be given the privilege to make their voice heard through a vote.

Christian Polozek, author of “How Gen Z Is Leading The Social Innovation Economy”, reported, “Gen Z is already getting more involved in politics, and this is only going to increase in the years ahead. We can expect them to use their voting power to elect leaders who reflect their values and to push for policies that address social and environmental issues.”

As humans we use terms such as “hot” and “cold” cognition when making decisions. Voting is a cold cognition situation because it is a calm environment where people have time to think about their decision.

According to The New York Times, “Studies of cold cognition have shown that the skills necessary to make informed decisions are firmly in place by age 16. By that age, adolescents can gather and process information, weigh pros and cons, reason logically with facts and take time before making a decision.” 

By lowering  the minimum voting age, teens will form lifelong habits of getting out and voting. 16-year-olds are permitted to vote in several other countries, including Germany whose  voter turnout is approximately 84.11 percent, while the US is only around 53.63 percent, according to reports, “The United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed countries. A person who votes in one election has a 13% greater probability of voting in a future election. Researchers say that people who participate in elections when they first reach voting age are likely to develop the habit of voting, and those who don’t are more likely to remain nonvoters.”

Elections affect the lives of teens, and they should have a say in the laws that will alter their futures and current lives. At 16, you are expected to follow the laws that any adult would follow, so they should get to vote on the laws. 

According to the Nation Youth Rights Association, “​The age of 16 is when people’s relationship with the law changes as they often start driving, working and paying taxes.​ ​16-year-olds can be emancipated from their parents and live independently in most states.”

If a sixteen-year-old can live on their own, they should be able to vote. People may argue that teens don’t care, nor are they educated on politics, but according to the National Youth Rights Association, “Young people are already participating in politics. Despite attempts to exclude us from the political process, we are still making our voices heard. Young people have started ultimately successful campaigns for mayor and state legislature before they were even old enough to vote.”
People at the age of 16 are treated like adults for the most part, so they are given the opportunity to decide their own future. Teenagers are perfectly capable of making informed decisions just as well as anyone 18 or older.