The Move to Lower the Voting Age
Author: Ayaan Parikh
Editor: Aditya Joshi
While writing the Constitution in 1787, the Founding Fathers found it fit to declare that voting should be exclusive for those above the age of 21. Nearly a decade later, Congress decided to lower the voting age to 18. Now, many believe it is right to let 16-year-olds vote as well. Those that are for making this change say that the decisions that are being made today will primarily influence that younger generation, and therefore, younger teens should have a larger say in votes. Many that oppose this voice for change say that numerous 16-year-old don’t have the knowledge and maturity to vote on decisions that will change local communities and societies. There are both pros and cons to this idea of lowering the voting age to 16.
There are numerous reasons why people believe voting at the age of 16 should be made legal. Many believe that younger people should have more say to maintain equal representation in a democracy like ours. In addition, many believe that civic engagement at a younger age will encourage civilians to vote once they become adults. Many feel a need for this increase in civic engagement, as America ranks 26th in voter participation compared to other high developed democracies. Furthermore, according to USA Facts, only 60% of eligible voters vote in local and federal elections. This skew of voters results in what many believe to be an unbalanced and unrepresented democracy. Due to this, supporters of this potential legislation describe that lowering the voting age will result in a better, more accurately-constituted democracy.
Although there are many advocates of passing this law, there are many who say that lowering the voting age will not be ideal for our nation. One major concern is that 16 and 17-year-olds are not mature enough to choose what is best for the country, and will instead decide who and what they vote for based on factors other than their true opinion. Research in neuroscience suggests that the brain is still undergoing major reconstruction and development during these teenage years. Maitri Ajmera described that this developing in the brain is not what is used while formulating political views and opinions, and therefore, this evidence does not matter. Moreover, Ajmera said that these young teens are able to produce logical political beliefs and support them with evidence. Despite this, most Americans agree with this side of the spectrum. A poll from The Atlantic and the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 81% of the population was opposed to lowering the voting age.
Much is being done in our local community to fight to lower the voting age. An organization by the name of “Kansas Teen Voting Coalition” is speaking to local community leaders in aspiration to gain support, feedback, and advice on the project. The organization has hosted events in various high schools around Kansas stressing the importance of citizen participation in voting. The group has also reached out to Vote 16 USA, a national organization that aids local communities in decreasing the voting age. Ajmera says that although the process to pass the legislation will be difficult, they have made considerable progress in their project. If you would like to support this cause, sign our petition at the link provided http://chng.it/S5vPt66DxQ. Whether you strongly believe in moving the voting age down to 16, or not, it is understood that Ajmera is making strides in her goals to elevate the status of youth in society.