Votes Are In With Minor Differences

Teenagers Are Invested in the Nation, so Why Can’t They Vote?

Elisabeth Silver

Opposing Opinions

Photo: The Conversation

Too Old to Play, Too Young to Say

Why We Should Raise the Voting Age

Luke Russell

October 18th, 2018

On July 1, 1971, the 26th amendment, stating that voting rights are to be federally expanded to those over the age of 18, was ratified after increasing pressures from activists and students during the Vietnam War. The activists reasoned that if an 18-year-old could be drafted into military service, then they should be able to decide who represents their beliefs at the local, state and federal level. Backed by two presidents, it only took three months and eight days to be ratified by the required three-fourths of states, making it the most quickly ratified amendment to ever be proposed. Today, though generally not considered a pressing issue, calls for a lowered voting age have risen again as teenagers have become increasingly involved and interested in the political system of the United States.


Many government regulated societal milestones take place at, or near, the age of sixteen, making lowering the voting age to sixteen make sense. Sixteen is the age when most individuals are able to work without age-related restrictions that exist in nearly every state. In a few states, it is the earliest age that one can acquire an unrestricted driver’s license, while in others, it is the first time one can apply for a driver’s license. Many sixteen-year-olds with jobs pay taxes, but are unable to have a say in the government that they go to. It seems only fair that if sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are participating so fully in society that they should have the ability to vote as well.


One of the most prominent arguments against lowering the voting age is that sixteen- year-olds won’t take a real interest in politics and that voter turnout will be low. However, as proven by recent events, many teenagers have taken a passionate interest in public policy and are working to make change despite the fact that they are unable to enact that change by voting. They have proven that they are capable of not only understanding the political climate in America, but that they are also able to actively participate in it. In 2014, seventeen-year-olds in Chicago were given the opportunity to vote if they were going to turn eighteen before the election. In one county, the percentage of 17-year-old voters was larger than every age group up to 48-year-old men. In Takoma Park, Maryland, the voting age was lowered to sixteen and the percentage of sixteen and seventeen-year-old voters was double the percentage of 18-25-year-old voters. Sixteen-year-olds, if given the chance to vote, will take it and are more likely to vote than older age groups. 


Another argument frequently presented claims that sixteen-year-olds are unable to truly think for themselves and are not yet able to have the reason in order to vote. However, teenagers have proven that they are able to think for themselves, especially in today’s political climate. Protests, demonstrations, and outcries for change have become common amongst high schoolers as events both charged and affected by politics become everyday occurrences. Not only are they more involved, but, according to research done in 2009, “adolescents possess the necessary skills to make an informed choice,” meaning that it is entirely possible for sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to make important decisions, such as whom to vote for, with a sincere sense of knowledge and individuality. Teenagers are able to think for themselves and should be given the choice to prove that they are in fact interested and invested in the future of the nation. 


By the time they reach sixteen, teenagers are more aware and are participating more in both government and society than any age before. The culture is changing and they are becoming more vocal about the things they want, but real change cannot happen until they have the ability to choose who they want to represent them. Important decisions are being made and they should be able to have a say. 


The voting age of these contiguous states has slowly worked its way down from state mandated to 18 year olds. The democrats have abused the expansion of our rights and the Vietnam War to increase their demographic range. The lowering of expansion rights has caused damages to our legislature, and our balance of equality. The voting age should be raised back to 21.


When the framers of the Constitution of America, the most sacred document hosted in the states of the union, were creating our voting system, the very backbone of our democracy, they left the decision of who could vote up to the states themselves. Many states limited this right to the group that would be most educated and most affected by policies implemented and executed by public officials. Many states went with taxpaying land owning white men. It wasn’t until the 14th amendment was passed by the national congress that the states were required to give voting rights to all male citizens born, or naturalized in the United States. 


During the Vietnam War a large portion of adult men left the United States, and thus the voting block altogether. This was bad for the democrats as this demographic change was a large portion of their supporters. For four months the Democratic Party pushed hard for an amendment to the constitution guaranteeing voting rights for 18-21 year olds because this demographic predominantly favored liberal ideas. This is foul play by liberals on the same moral standing as gerrymandering and carpet bagging.


The most educated on average sect of the population, and the sect that contributes the most to society was viewed as the first demographic to have guaranteed voting rights, this was land-owning white males. There were a few reasons why it was limited to white males, mostly stemming from the fact that the 13 colonies were English colonies. Slavery and servitude were in place at the time of the ratification of the constitution, Women weren’t allowed to vote early on as most women would be married off before the age of voting eligibility and the founding fathers didn’t want to give married men twice the voting power of single men.


The quest to lower the voting age has caused ignorant policies to pass. It is the result of legislation passing to favor one party over another. It disrupts our democracy, contributes to partisanship of the youth, and paints the U.S. war machine in a good light.