Ayaz: It’s time to lower the voting age to 16

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Hadiqa Ayaz, Writer

Teenagers nowadays are active in many political activities.

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who is an environmental activist on climate change, has gained international recognition. Her struggle and passion can lead to the betterment of her country and can have an impact on many others. 

Many teenagers like her who don’t get recognition and attention which they should be getting. To make this possible, they should be given the right to vote so that they can know their abilities and make decisions for their future.

How? By allowing 16-year-olds to vote.

Voting is a very important part of any democracy. By voting, citizens are participating in the democratic process. Citizens vote for leaders to represent them and their ideas, and the leaders support the citizens’ interests. Choosing a leader for future generations is a big decision. 

If policies directly affect 16-year-olds, then their voice should count.

Teens across the nation are exploring political activism and wondering how to impact politics in their own way. This begs the question, should the voting age be shifted to 16, allowing younger opinions into the realm of politics?

This isn’t the first time teens have desired change in the voting age. According to an article in People’s World, a nationwide voice for change, the voting age was shifted from 21 to 18 back in 1970 when then-president Richard Nixon signed in the 26th amendment to the United States Constitution. 

When teenagers turn 16, they are allowed to do work, drive, and donate blood but are not allowed to vote. Why is it like that?

This topic has been discussed in the last few years and has been a great issue in the past few years.

Many people think that a 16-year-old is not mature enough to take a decision on their own and will follow their parents’ directions.

Adults believe that giving teenagers the right to vote is absurd, lowering the voting age to 16 is not absurd. However, it’s actually a completely necessary reform to improve our democracy, which is ill-informed and handicapped by low voter turnout.

Some critics said that 16 year-olds aren’t mature enough or have enough life experience. Many argue that 16-year-olds should have a stake in laws that affect them. They go to school, so why not let them vote on school policy? A lot of them also have jobs where they’re taxed on their earnings without having any voting power to affect change in their government. 

First of all, the 16-year-old is considered a grown-up in our society. They are given many responsibilities at that age and are expected to work and behave like an adult. Many teenagers at the age of 16 are concerned about their future. Many of them are willing to go to professions that have something to do with politics, law, and authorities. Even if some teenagers don’t care about it, the reason behind it is that they know they are not being involved or count in government yet. If they will be given right they will be more concerned about politics and stuff going around. It shows Republicans that lowering the voting age is common sense, not a partisan issue. 

“Those who pay taxes should have a voice in our democracy,” says Burgess. “As a teen, I worked and paid taxes.”

Ann Kober, a 60-year-old adult educator from Kent County, also agrees that lowering the voting age may be problematic. 

“No, 16-year olds shouldn’t vote! They haven’t been out in the working world enough at that age to understand the impact of their decisions. It’s a proven fact that teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed until they are older! Some teenagers are mature enough to vote, but the majority aren’t.

Eric Clark, US history and economics teacher at Oshkosh North, agrees with Kober.

“I think 18 is the appropriate voting age.  I believe this primarily because it is the legal age for becoming an adult and serving in the military.”

Nationally, the change has gained some political support. On April 2018, a Washington, D.C city councilman proposed the idea of lowering the voting age in local and federal elections from 18 to 16. 

Freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass, proposed lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 for federal elections. The proposal failed with only 126 votes but represented a turning point in the fight for enfranchisement. It had the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has championed such efforts at the local level in California for years.

According to Brandon Klugman, campaign coordinator at Vote16USA, an organization which lobbies for lowering the voting age, currently four other cities have laws allowing 16- or 17-year-olds to vote: three Maryland cities — Takoma Park, Greenbelt, and Hyattsville — allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections; and Berkeley, California, allows 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections only. 

In 2013, the City of Takoma Park, Maryland became the first place in the United States to lower its voting age to 16, for local elections and referendums.

The Brookline League of Women Voters in Massachussettes surveyed teenagers on this topic in Brookline and nearby towns, and results were surprising. More than 75% of the kids said they would vote if they could.

If 16- and 17-year-olds can contribute to society through work and face the criminal justice system as adults, isn’t it only reasonable to allow them the right of self-determination through voting?

Democracy says yes.