With the hoopla surrounding the recent elections, it brought to mind the age restrictions surrounding voting rights.
In the United States, there are many laws that prevent minors from doing things. For the most part, these are for our good. It makes sense that we shouldn’t be able to drive, drink, smoke, live on our own, or get a full time job under a certain age. However, there is nothing wrong with letting minors participate in elections.
By high school, some teens are capable of understanding complex political issues, and are able to formulate their own opinions. Being one of those teens, I think that we should be able to voice our opinions through ballots. If we can understand the issues, and we are motivated enough to register to vote, there should not any reason that we cannot vote.
Minors often have no voice in any decisions, even those that directly affect them. For example, school board elections exclude minors, even though minors are the ones directly affected by the results of these elections. Minors are also constituents of our representatives, whether local, state, or national. We should be able to vote for representatives that represent our interests.
Although the Associated Student Governments (ASG) of various schools attempt to give students more political power, these ultimately do not give the majority of teens a voice. The ASG is just a popularity contest; candidates are judged based on their popularity instead of how well they can represent the students. Part of the blame should be put on the school; the amount of power the officers have is extremely limited, the general school population is rarely told about what occurs at meetings, and the only form of political expression given to the general population is through the ASG voting.
The main concern people may have about lowering the voting age is that minors will skew results because they will not care about who they vote for and they will impulsively vote for candidates based on nonsensical or inaccurate information. However, I believe that if minors are too lazy to make an informed decision, then they will not bother to register to vote in the first place.
Voting is a basic right we have in the United States, and it should not be denied to people just because of their age. 18 is not a clearly defined point in one’s life where one becomes capable of forming opinions. While eliminating the minimum voting age altogether may not be a good idea, at least moving it down to 15 or 16 seems reasonable. If we are to truly represent every part of the population, we need to lower the voting age to accommodate more people who have a voice.
-Eric, Teen Advisory Group