Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16?

The Lance weighs in on the debate over lowering the voting age

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This year’s 2020 election sparks debate with the country’s high schoolers.

As the 2020 election rapidly approaches, eligible voters are getting ready to cast their ballots. However, for the majority of students at NVOT, this is just another election where they can only watch everything unfold. In 1971, the U.S. lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 because protestors argued that 18-year-olds were old enough to fight but not vote. Now, there is a debate over whether or not the voting age should now be lowered further to 16. While some argue that 16-year-olds deserve to have their voice heard in society, others argue that 16-year-olds are not mature enough to make educated decisions for their country. Here’s what The Lance Staff thinks:

 

Tala Areiqat: YES. March 2020 marked the first month since 2002 that America didn’t experience a school shooting. And the only reason for that is the country going on lockdown due to a pandemic.The fear of school shootings has plagued every single high school student in the country, directly affecting us. Gun violence protests drew about 1 million students across America following the shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We already have skin in the game. We have stakes in this. And the stakes are high. So why should high school students barely be represented when it comes to dictating laws that protect or don’t protect us? If it’s our lives at stake, we should be able to choose the lawmakers.

 

Ashley Silva: NO, it is not ideal for the U.S. to lower the voting age to 16. Students at that age are not only fed information through their parents, but they also do not experience the effects of certain political issues. Stuart Goldstein, a retired advocate from the 1969 voting age movement, said that unlike 16-year-olds, 18-year-olds were working,”fighting in the war, and were “full participants [of] our society.” As “full participants” of society, 18-year-olds experience how issues like tax cuts affect their daily lives, while 16-year-olds are not directly affected because they live under the financial security of their parents. They do not have any experience on how to deal with the issues without any security, which leads them to not fully comprehend the full value of a certain topic a candidate may use to win more votes. 

Students at that age are not only fed information through their parents, but they also do not experience the effects of certain political issues.”

— Ashley Silva

Spencer Walsh: YES, the voting age should be lowered to 16 years old because a lot of kids my age seem to have political opinions and might want to express them through voting. I see a lot of kids with political views on social media, notably TikTok and Instagram. On TikTok, people will make short videos and post why their audience should or shouldn’t vote for somebody. On Instagram, people will repost tweets and information to draw attention to politicians or political issues going on in the United States. For people who are highly opinionated or highly political and have become immersed in politics and have a big enough understanding of issues to understand their consequences by casting their vote. 

 

Dan Ouk: NO, the voting age should not be lowered to 16 because parents and peers can influence teens’ votes. Peer pressure and the desire to live up to people’s expectations is a big deal in high school. The need to keep up the right appearance and please people can influence who a person votes for. There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion, but a vote should be based on a person’s own beliefs and moral code. It shouldn’t be something that is decided by what your friend or parent says to you. With academics, appearances, and parent’s expectations, some people may not have had the chance to develop their identity, which is an important factor to consider if that person is going to vote. 

 

Alicia Hamm: YES, the voting age should be lowered to 16. Some argue that 16-year-olds don’t have enough of an understanding about politics, but that simply isn’t true. As a 16-year-old myself, I feel that I have a pretty solid understanding of politics and important issues, and many people my age do too. While I personally don’t trust every 16-year-old with a ballot, I don’t trust every adult either. Some of us may not understand politics, but isn’t it fair to say that some adults don’t either? Yet, they have the right to vote, regardless of their political knowledge. 

While I personally don’t trust every 16-year-old with a ballot, I don’t trust every adult either.”

— Alicia Hamm

Amir Attal: NO, the voting age should not be lowered. 16-year-old high schoolers today lack knowledge about certain issues they would be voting for. Also, they sometimes do not fully understand what they are advocating or voting for because their exposure to certain issues are filtered by their parents and their sheltered presence in society. In Maggie Astor’s article, senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and interviewee Jennifer C. Braceras said that 16-year-olds have “little awareness of politics, civics, or American history, and they have little life experience to inform their decisions.” Students tend to focus on school work and their social lives; I do not believe that 16-year-olds have any interest in investing time and research into the political atmosphere of society. 

Do you think the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16?

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