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Editorial: The Voting Age Should Be Lowered to 16

By Sara McCrea in Opinion & Politics

In the 1985 cult classic, “The Breakfast Club,”smart and nerdy 16-year-old Brian Johnson is asked why he has fake identification. “So I can vote,” he says.

Throughout history, the struggle for the right to vote and “No Taxation Without Representation” has succeeded in all but one category. Because of the law restricting anyone under 18 to place a vote, teens are given the burdens of adults without their basic rights to have a say in democracy.

Watching the election unfurl last night for most of us was like watching a forest fire; there was nothing we could do to change the outcome of the numbers flashing across our screens. As someone who is politically minded, not having the right to voice my opinion because I am turning 18 next April is a pretty terrible feeling.

I think my experience of watching the election was similar to most of our student body, but I acknowledge that some people came into school today with hope for our county. I want to echo something that a teacher of mine said, as I feel it is an appropriate representation of how I am approaching today. As of hope, I have none. I have no understanding. I have only belief in the power of love, and the power of activism.

Although some argue that teens do not have the understanding of political issues to vote, this is something that would be changed if they were given the chance to make their vote count. After viewing some of the lengthy posts on social media, it is my understanding that teens are passionate about getting politically involved, and feel like they have a right to be included in our political system.

The UK Electoral Commission said that “there is no single definition of maturity,” and this is proven by the amount of adults in the US that do not understand the issues they are voting for. To get teens politically involved would create citizens who care about politics enough to make informed decisions to improve the country. Sixteen-year-olds can apply for a passport, drive a two ton piece of machinery, join the army, and have sex, so why should they be denied the right to make decisions that will directly affect their future?

There is no psychological difference between a 16-year-old and a 18-year-old. According to a study by Virginia Tech, most 16-year-olds have developed advanced reasoning skills. And for the ones who haven’t, it is unlikely that they will in the two years before they will be able to vote anyways.

Low turnouts at elections would rapidly decrease if the voting age was lowered. In Austria it was found that 68% of teens aged 16 to 18 were interested in politics and only 45% of working adults. This is because in education civic engagement is preached and students are encouraged to be involved in their communities. They should be able to vote while they can discuss what each issue is in a civics class.And turning voting into a family outing would encourage those teens to keep voting after they leave the nest.

 Teens aged 16 and 17 during an election will be influenced by the decisions that are made. Many teens have part-time jobs and pay taxes without being represented, which goes against the main pillar that America was founded on. Currently, they cannot influence their own education and they cannot elect officials that will be in office during the time they can legally vote. And if teenagers are making scientific discoveries, writing books, and winning Nobel Prizes it is only fair that they should be able to fill out a ballot.

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