Read time: 2 minutes. OP-ED regarding lowering the voting age. 2 minute read. (575 words)
Should we lower the voting age?
The question has been posed many times before. Currently, 18 is the age when people can register to vote. In this piece, we’ll explore the side that believes the voting age should, in fact, be lowered in order to accommodate not only the youth but also the nation’s well-being. Those who disagree with the idea of lowering the voting age have supplemented their arguments with multiple points. They claim younger teens are only a few years from voting so it shouldn’t matter anyway. They claim it is a matter of age that correlates with intelligence and ability to make well-informed decisions. Others mistakenly believe that the youth will vote on a whim for whatever seems novel or amusing at the moment. So why then, should the average teen care about the welfare of the nation when he or she isn’t equally represented when decisions are being made in their nation?
There is a prevalent notion when it comes to those under voting age; that they will vote not with foresight but clear bias. That they will somehow, vote wrong. However, there is no such thing as a right or wrong vote: it’s a matter of opinion. As much as we’d like to believe it, not every adult in the country is knowledgeable of each candidate’s policy or (unfortunately) even cares to vote.
Let’s turn back the calendars to 1971. The country was in the midst of conflict with Vietnam. 18-year-olds were sent out to fight and die for their country but they still weren’t old enough to vote. It didn’t take long for many to realize this contradiction. Hence, the fastest amendment to be ratified was born. The 26th amendment dropped the voting age from 21 to 18, expanding to include a new demographic of voters. With the risk of conflict present in any global society, younger people must be able to have a say in what commitments the nation entangles itself in. Lowering the voting age may yield a new voting block, but it won’t be entirely different from other demographics.
It could be problematic to suggest the new voting block would immediately jump on the bandwagon for gag-candidates in a sense (looking at you Harambe). A majority of people won’t all be voting drastically different from their community, as they are heavily influenced by the ideals they were raised on (although there are certainly exceptions).
Another point is that because they are under 18, these “children” are uneducated and not mature enough to make a decision this important. However, it would be wrong to consider the multitude of voting adults who are uninformed on the stances of their party’s candidate. Age should not be used as an indicator of intelligence. There are some who propose the voting age should be lowered to 16. Young adults are more than capable of making sound decisions. However, even if they aren’t, they are in the good company of the uninformed adults.
Also, by giving the younger demographic the ability to vote, we empower them to take charge to initiate real reform in their government. By getting involved at a younger age, they accumulate not only experience but also a feeling of pride and self-worth for contributing. Compare that to the millions of citizens who do not exercise their right to vote. If we gave younger people the tools now, they could inspire a new generation of those willing to help create a great government.