Should We Lower The Voting Age?

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Last week, the League of Women Voters set up a booth in the RMHS front entryway. During lunches, they registered anyone who would turn 18 before or on November 8th of this year to vote. But I don’t think you need to be 18 to make a good vote. In fact, opening up voting to kids is the perfect way to get us involved in the world early, and let us work towards informed decision making. 

“Voting in my mind is the ultimate form of participation in a democracy,” said Ms. Garcia, Rolling Meadows Law/Social Science teacher. “Democracies won’t be able to function unless individuals get out and vote, it’s how citizens voice their choices and the direction they would like the country to go.” And since voting is this important, I believe it should not be restricted to just adults, but available for people 16 and over.

In 1971, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 because 18-year-olds were included in the draft for the military. US Congressmen agreed that if 18-year-olds had such responsibilities to their country, they should have a say in their government. And 16-year-olds also have impactful responsibilities.

When asked, the women working at the LWV stand said that they would support the voting age being lowered to sixteen, sharing their personal opinions (the LWV has no official stance on this). The general consensus among these voters was, “If 16-year-olds can do things like pay income tax and hold a driver’s license, why shouldn’t they vote?” One member even stated that, between an engaged 14-year-old and a disengaged 18-year-old, she would rather have the 14-year-old who cares about voting contribute to our country’s decision-making process. “As long as people are making informed choices,” said Ms. Garcia, a sentiment that both I and these LWV members tend to agree with.

I know I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can vote. Since I’m interested in history and politics, I would consider myself responsible and educated enough to have a voice in important matters. And this interest in voting extends to students beyond just me. “I personally plan to vote once I’m old enough, though I don’t want that to be the extent of my political involvement,“ said Lorelei Osterlund, an RMHS junior. As someone who can’t vote yet, Lorelei is still contributing to society in other ways. “I think people should vote, as contributing to the outcomes of elections is important, but I also think the most important thing you should do is get involved in your local community to assist with issues you care about, such as in protests or organizations. Donations to causes you care about are useful too,” says Osterlund. And there are millions of American kids with similar passion for doing good and having a say in their communities and world. These are the people I want voting, the ones who want a brighter future and are willing to work towards it. And I believe teens like this can make good decisions to help effect change. 

As functional, 16-year-old members of society already, you pay taxes, have a place on the road, can become an emancipated adult, can get married in many states and can work a job to contribute to the economy. Therefore you deserve a place at the polls.