The fastest amendment to ever be passed in the United States helped to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. Now there is a discussion about lowering the voting age to at least the age of 16. Some states already allow 17 year olds to vote in primaries and in San Francisco, general municipal voting happens at age 16. Are there pros and cons to lowering the voting age to 16 or lower from a national standpoint?
The Pros of Lowering the Voting Age
1. Teens are more informed than many people realize.
Teens spend almost half of their day listening, learning, or reading about the political process. Many of them have more current events knowledge than their parents. Despite this, they have no real representation of their views because they don’t have the ability to vote.
2. Voting makes teens even more politically aware.
Younger people tend to take their voting rights more seriously than older people. Even the difference between a 16 year old and a 19 year old can be staggering.
3. Many teens are in the general workforce already.
There are plenty of teens who contribute to this nation’s economy. Some are even earning enough to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Since other workers get the opportunity to vote, shouldn’t they as well?
The Cons of Lowering the Voting Age
1. Younger people tend to be more trusting of others and influenced by messages.
Younger kids tend to believe everything they see or hear is real, even if it is just a commercial on television. Teens tend to believe what their role models believe because of the influence had on their lives. This influence could dramatically influence voting patterns.
2. Voting in certain ways might contribute to popularity patterns.
We already see this in the adult world. The political process is so polarized that people on the extreme left and right tend to hate each other with a passion. Their vote becomes their ticket to popularity. In high school, where popularity is so important, voting could wind up being more of a group-think issue than an individualized issue.
3. It could create more rights discussions.
If 16 year olds have the right to drive and vote, why can’t they have the right to smoke? Or own a gun? Or even be able to drink alcohol? By lowering the voting age, we would undoubtedly have discussions about other rights issues that we may be even less comfortable discussing.
The pros and cons of lowering the voting age show that there is potential for good, but potential for harm as well. It is a decision that each community, state, and nation must decide together.