Voting age is a very controversial topic. History has seen the minimum age for voting change, from 21 to 18 during 1969. When 18 year-olds were being drafted into the military, but could not vote. Now something similar has occurred, with climate change and gun control. Now more than ever, guns are killing more students. In 46 weeks there has been over 45 school shootings killing at least one student. Still gun laws aren’t changing and many believe it's because students, the ones actually being affected by the shootings aren’t represented in politics. People are starting comparing this to when 18-year-olds couldn’t vote for the president that was drafting them into the military. Climate change is a problem that is not going to affect the current generation but the generation born after the 2000’s, so it doesn’t get much attention and priority from current voters. Because of 16 year-olds participation and involvement in these problems, national voting age should be reduced to 16.
What Are Ages of Current Voters?
Currently the U.S has the lowest voter turnout of any developed nation. This greatly affects the U.S.A and can be seen in their voter demographics, most of the voters in the U.S are age 65 plus white, data provided from the U.S Census. The main problem with this demographic is that they don’t know much about current issues, such as climate change and gun violence because it won’t affect them as much as it affects minorities or people of younger ages. The current issue many have is that. Why should the kids of this generation stand on the side and watch while their future is being destroyed right in front of them, with the world's lack to address climate change? Many teens around the world, especially in the U.S are stepping up and organizing protests and coming together to try to stop this, like the Juliana Plaintiffs and the recent worldwide teen protest about climate change. The only thing is no leaders are listening because they don’t have to worry about teen voters, all they have to do is satisfy the older population who is clearly not worried about climate change. As seen from the recent election of leaders around the world who have been ignoring this issue. But one highly debated topic has been gun control. The countless protests that teens have done trying to stricten gun control laws have seemed to be ineffective. This goes back and relates to the fact that politicians don't have to address teens issues and concerns, because it won't affect their chances of being elected. They are better off not addressing gun control because the people who vote are not as concerned about guns or climate change. This is why U.S.A has to change its voting age, because for a country that boasts about having a democracy, clearly do not as not everyone's issues are being heard and attended to.
Why Isn’t the Voting Age Being Changed?
People believe that 16 year-olds are not mature enough to vote, or not involved as much as older people. People argue that 16 year-olds don’t care enough about politics. These were the same arguments people used when trying to justify why African Americans shouldn’t and women shouldn’t vote. They said that African Americans and women were not relevant and weren’t as smart as the current voter population, but when you look at it now it seems ridiculous. The same should be done with 16 year-olds, now more than ever. Because with technology they are more exposed current affairs and politics. This can be seen when you look at mock elections and voting events teens are participating more in these elections because they care about current affairs. Ayanna Pressley who presented a bill to lower voting age to the House said “Some have questioned the maturity of our youth. I don’t,” the congresswoman told the House”, she went on to say “A sixteen-year-old in 2019 possesses a wisdom and a maturity that comes from 2019 challenges, hardships, and threats”. The bill she presented did not pass but did get the support of 125 House members. Teen activism is rising, recently there have been many protests against the way the world is being run and this has been proving Pressley’s point of why teens should be allowed to vote.
The national voting age of the United States should be lowered to 16 because it allows a larger voting population of people who are interested in their future. Opening up voting to 16 will allow the country to have more creative solutions and gives the youth a chance to be heard. Many say that lowering the voting age will be unfavorable to the country but they are also the ones who make key decisions in the lives of the younger people and so far their decisions have negatively impacted the youth. The youth can't argue because their voice is not heard and lowering the voting age will allow them to be heard.
“ACLU Letter Opposing H.R. 1 (For the People Act of 2019).” American Civil Liberties Union, https://www.aclu.org/aclu-letter-opposing-hr-1-people-act-2019.
Astor, Maggie. “16-Year-Olds Want a Vote. Fifty Years Ago, So Did 18-Year-Olds.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 May 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/19/us/politics/voting-age.html.
Cilluffo, Anthony, and Richard Fry. “Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X Outvoted Older Generations in 2018 Midterms.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 29 May 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/29/gen-z-millennials-and-gen-x-outvoted-older-generations-in-2018-midterms/.
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