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Should We Lower the Voting Age to 16?

by Countable | 3.20.18

What's the story?

  • Parkland students organizing against gun violence have many questioning if 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote.

The headlines and subheads:

  • Bloomberg: "Let Teenagers Vote: If they can organize marches, lobby legislators and support candidates, why not?"

  • The Nation: "Lower the Voting Age to 16: Young people who are smart enough and engaged enough to shape the debate about gun violence are smart enough and engaged enough to vote."

  • Today in Politics: "We Shouldn’t Lower the Voting Age — We Should Raise It People Under 25 Shouldn’t Vote

  • The Economist: "Young voters are becoming disillusioned with elections. Catch them early and teach them the value of democracy."

Voting age has been lowered in the past

  • In 1971, during the Vietnam War, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18.

Some states allow 16-year-olds to vote in certain elections

  • As CNN noted: "Several municipalities in the United States allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local elections."
  • In 2016, voters in Berkeley, CA, agreed to lower the voting age to 16 for school board elections.

The main argument against lowering the voting age

  • 16- and 17-year-olds aren’t mature enough to participate in the democratic process.

  • Former Hill staffer Austin Frank wrote in Today in Politics: "It’s a maturity thing. Most young voters simply aren’t emotionally stable and mature enough to be entrusted with a presidential election vote, and also lack skin in the game (income, assets, career, etc.)"

The main argument for lowering the voting age

  • Research has shown that "cold cognition" – measured decision-making and consultation with others – “is just as mature as that of adults by 16.”

  • Voting is a habit. As The Economist explained, "those who do not take to it young may never start. That could lead to ever-lower participation rates in decades to come, draining the legitimacy of governments in a vicious spiral in which poor turnout feeds skepticism towards democracy, and vice versa."

Early voting exists in other countries

  • Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua allow voting at 16.

  • Scotland allowed 16-year-olds to vote during its 2014 independence election.

  • After Britain’s 2016 Brexit vote - which younger voters overwhelmingly opposed - business magnate Richard Branson argued for lowering the voting age to 16 as young people are more "interested, motivated, and informed" than ever before because of social media. He added:

"While democracy is based on the popular vote, we should not dismiss the voices and pleas of those that end up on the other side of the verdict – especially in this case, as young people will be most affected by the decision, moving forward."

What do you think?

Should the United States lower the voting age to 16? Keep it at 18? Raise it to 25? No matter your age, hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: @studentswalkout via Twitter)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(427)
  • Jennifer
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Not only NO, but HELL NO! Only the left leaning person could ever encourage this, since they know that for the 1st time in our nation, after decades of leftist indoctrination, our youth’s minds have been taken over. I was one of them, so I know firsthand. They no longer learn how to think for themselves, rather how to think like the group. Individuality is of no importance any longer, only group think. In fact, since we now know about developing brains, once we decide to raise the age to 21 for buying a long gun, I say we raise the voting age, drinking age, and the age of joining the military to 21 as well. But then we’d have to have the draft. I’m all for that, with no educational deferment or any politician being able to keep their kid out. Our youth would surely get a lesson in civics and what it means to defend liberty.

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  • PaxAmericana
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Oh my gosh, PLEASE NO. I’m 16, but I know over 90% of my classmates don’t know a lick about politics, the issues, or the candidates. They will only vote for what their favorite celebrities or their parents tell them to vote for. Minors shouldn’t vote; this would without a doubt destroy our governmental and electoral system.

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  • Dana
    02/26/2018
    ···

    If government thinks that 16 and 17 year olds are mature enough to vote then why aren’t they mature enough to make decisions to live on their own, get married, drink responsibly, join the military. Why? Because they are not. Voting is a huge responsibility. I think the age limit to vote should be higher. Teenagers are too emotionally driven.

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  • RickEberhardt
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Give me a break. You don’t think they’re mature enough to drink, own weapons, serve in the military, or get married. Why do you think they’re mature enough to vote intelligently? Unless of course you think they’ll vote for your party.

    Like (89)
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  • Paris
    02/26/2018
    ···

    A thousand times NO! Just because a few 16 year old students in Florida seem educated enough to vote, doesn’t mean EVERY 16 year old is educated enough to vote. There are adults that don’t use their brains critically enough to make a proper decision, how can we say kids can? Their brains aren’t full developed, they go through adolescence. A lot of negatives and I think changing the age to vote to 16 is a terrible idea.

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  • operaman
    02/27/2018
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    Should a 16-year-old vote? Only if they want chocolate milk or regular milk. Studies show the frontal cerebral lobe doesn't reach maturity until 25-28 years old. And with drug/marijuana use, maybe never.

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  • Natalie
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Yes. Young people have the ability to make good judgment calls and votes. The sooner they get involved in voting and the awareness of what’s going on in society, the better. This encourages lifelong participation in our political process.

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  • ManfromNebraska
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Absolutely not! At sixteen I had no idea what was right politically. Most sixteen year olds aren’t mature enough to make a wise decision. I’m not sure I was ready at eighteen. They would be easily swayed by corrupt politicians.

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  • Michael
    02/26/2018
    ···

    ABSOLUTELY NO!!! It shouldn’t even be 18. The brain isn’t fully developed until about 25. Most young people don’t have enough life experience to know what’s in their best interest, and many just parrot what they’ve been taught by their college professors or parents. The only reason to be for this is because you want to take advantage of young people’s naivety.

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  • Leon
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Dumbest. Idea. Ever.

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  • Robert
    02/26/2018
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    Maybe we should, I’ve seen a lot of maturity out of those students in Florida. Much more maturity than I’ve seen in Congress. Maybe we should also make voting day a holiday to encourage more people to participate in the right to vote.

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  • Gudgetalks
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Absolutely not! The parkland situation only proves how much these children have to learn about life and making decisions based on logic rather than emotion. It anything the age should be 21. Sorry but we are giving much too much credit to these immature traumatized teens.

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  • Michael
    02/26/2018
    ···

    No no no. This there is nothing to talk about NO No NO

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  • Joann
    02/26/2018
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    No I don’t think kids should even graduate high school unless they can pass the same test legal emigrants have to pass before they can become a citizen!

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  • Gary
    02/27/2018
    ···

    How about we raise it to 21. At 16 these kids don’t even know what bathroom to use anymore thanks to the social constructs they are being thought these days.

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  • Shaun
    02/27/2018
    ···

    Listen, If an 16 year old can drive a car and get a job.They are being taxed without fair representation. BECAUSE THEY CANT VOTE and should be able too.

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  • Walter
    02/26/2018
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    Ancient Roman politicians made use of expensive bread and circuses to sway public opinion. Begs the question whether modern American politicians will sponsor rap concerts and marijuana to influence teenage voters.

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  • Ethan
    02/26/2018
    ···

    Absolutely not. 16 is too young for most people to think intelligent or even informed. I remember classmates opinions back in High school that were not articulate or even remotely intellectual. Their beliefs were driven on band wagon philosophies and mainstream ideas, not individualistic genuine political beliefs.

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  • Be
    02/26/2018
    ···

    No

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  • NoHedges
    02/26/2018
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    Might as well since everything will be falling on their shoulders in this rob the future agenda. 🌎While I agree teens are still developing, their recent actions prove some of these young adults are ready to tackle tough issues. ⚜️Maybe there should be an earlier voter track where they can earn the right to vote at 16. If enough teens pursue the opportunity, we might actually end up with a more educated group of voters. 🛑PS To all of you, ADULTS complaining about a teens LACK OF BRAIN DEVELOPMENT it is the frontal lobes or cortex that governs decision making and is primarily responsible for executive skills not the cerebral cortex. It is also the frontal lobes that takes longer to mature. AS AN ADULT WITH SUCH SUPERIOR BRAIN FUNCTIONING, you might want to get your facts straight before one of those young adults with a underdeveloped/inferior brain 🧠 happens to correct you. You might also want note the cerebral cortex is more likely to be deteriorating in a 60 year old than a 16 year old.🔥Countable friends, please rethink your knee jerk reaction. If nothing else the fact that operaman is leading in this thought train, should give you cause to apply some metacognition and flexible thinking. 👓PaxAmericana, I am seeing several discrepancies in your posts regarding your age. In one post you claim to be "voting able" and in this post you claim to be 16. There are also several vernacular differences, for example, I can't recall the last time I read a 16 year old's post with the phrase "give a lick" or "oh my gosh." They both fell out of favor when texting became mainstream. Which brings up other inconsistencies...if you do happen to be 16, please report to your nearest AP History teacher, you might have missed some of the nuances in our early foundations. I, personally, suggest you start by reading the preamble and restating it in your own words.

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