Terrier Times

Should the voting age be 16?

Olivia Martin

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According to CBS News, people between the ages of 18 and 24 have the lowest voter turnout of any age group in the United States. However, In an NBC news broadcast, it was stated that in cities where the voting age had been lowered, 16-17 year olds were found to vote at more than twice the rate of adults.

If that’s the case, then it would have a huge impact on the “trickle up effect”. The trickle up effect, for those of you who don’t know, is a political theory that suggests there is a direct correlation between different age groups. When Cambridge studied the trickle up effect, the results suggested that if youth are allowed to vote, parents become 2.8 percentage points more likely to vote as well.

When the youth are engaged in politics, they bring this home to the dinner table. Conversation between minors and their elders would drive voting rates through the roof throughout all age groups. A Newsweek poll suggests that a staggering 67% of Americans are “unhappy with the direction of the country”. To that 67%, the only way to get America back on track is to cast your vote. The best we can do to increase the number on the electorate is for a lower voting age which should be encouraged. The people will never be content with the government until the voices of the people are heard and prioritized. We must come together as one and demand to be a priority to local and national government.  

We know that lowering the voting age would work in America because it has been successful in other countries. Generally speaking, countries with the voting age 16 are found in Latin America and the Channel Islands. These countries include Argentina, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador; the most prominent example being Brazil. In the 1988 Brazilian constitution, the voting age was decreased from 18 to 16. The difference it makes is a 2.3% voter increase on the Brazilian electorate. This information is according to fairvote.com. While 2.3% doesn’t seem like a substantial increase, Brazil is home to well over 200 billion people. 2.3% accounts for hundreds of thousands of young voices.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise for this nation that there’s such a strong push to lower the voting age. In fact, it has happened before in the history of this young country. During the time of the Vietnam War, our legislation passed the Voting Rights Act of 1970. The legal voting age was changed from 21 to 18 as a result of civilian outcry. Americans were appalled at the fact that a man could be drafted into the military and die for this country at age 18, but were denied the right to vote until age 21. This situation is comparative to today because minors are experiencing similar responsibilities to those who were sent off in war.  The desire from both groups are the same; to have their voices be heard and to cast their vote as a valued member of society.

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Turning 16 is a milestone in American culture because this is the youngest that citizens are legally able to be employed. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 55% of 16-24 year olds were employed as of July 2018. Even if they can’t vote, depending on how much a 16 or 17 year old will make, the federal government will want their cut. As somebody who has been working since the age of 16,  it’s very frustrating to see the government taking my money that I work hard for yet leaving me with no say as to where the money goes and what it’s used for. I know I’m speaking for plenty of minors in saying that. It’s even more frustrating to see the current political state of the US and not be able to do anything about it. It’s OUR FUTURE. It’s time that government officials recognize this and give us the right we deserve.

 

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Should the voting age be 16?