Should we lower the voting age of Americans?

Ronan Walsh, Staff Writer

The voting age in America has been 18 since Congress Passed the 26th Amendment in 1971. As other countries lower their voting age to 16, we should ask ourselves, should we do the same?

Yes.

People tend to start life as optimists, but as they age, their positive outlook on the world starts to dim. Younger voters would bring a unique viewpoint. By age 16, we have reached the point in our education where we believe that we can make informed decisions. Most who are opposed to lowering the voting age will claim that teenagers are not ready, but they are wrong. We have studied ancient and current civilizations and forms of government, so we understand the triumphs and follies of past world leaders and governments. We often have strong and well-formed opinions, and are able to discuss our views and political outlooks freely (which could lead to improved political discourse), but we are not legally allowed to express them in elections.

Two Maryland cities (as well as many European countries) have already lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections. Proponents claim that it improves young voter turnout, and makes voting a lifelong habit. There are many other reasons to lower the voting age. If teens were allowed to vote, then politicians would have to pay more attention and represent us and our issues. Also, working teens pay taxes on their labor. Our purchasing dollars are very powerful. According to the National Youth Rights Association, “Teens pay an estimated $9.7 billion dollars in sales taxes alone, not to mention many millions of taxes on income, according to the IRS, ‘You may be a teen, you may not even have a permanent job, but you have to pay taxes on the money you earn.'”

My fellow Generation Z-ers and I will, with increased healthcare and advancements in medicine, be custodians of this Earth for longer than any generation ever. So why shouldn’t we have any say in our planet’s fate in these pivotal days? Despite what some say, I believe that teenagers can, and should be allowed to, make educated decisions.