Adamant Adolescence: Lower the Voting Age?


Should the United States Lower the Voting Age For Federal Elections?  

Since the 1990s, many US states have tried and failed, to lower the voting age to SixteenConstitutional amendment that would achieve this goal would require two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures to vote in favor of it 


Recently, the movement has been led by groups like the National Youth Rights Association. Users of social media like Tic Toc and Twitter have both played a part in renewing this idea, by posting their views on this topic.  


Some cities, like Berkley, California, allow those 16 years or older to vote in local elections. Other countries, like Brazil and Ecuador, have already lowered the federal voting age to sixteen.  


In 1940 the United States lowered the national voting age from 21 to 18.  This change can be traced back to the draft age minimum being lowered to 18.  However, an amendment would not be considered until public outcry demanded it. 




The United States Should Lower the Federal Voting Age to 16. (Dominic Monacelli): 

The voting age has not changed in 80 years. It is time it changes again. Lowering the voting age will not only give a group of people representation- but also improve voter turnout in the future. As the past 8 decades have gone by, 16- and 17-yearolds are feeling more and more directly affected by politics. It is time we give this age group the representation they deserve.  


According to Sean McElwee, data scientist and social activist, a big problem facing the U.S. is voter turnout. Last federal election, only 54.7% of the voting age population voted for president. In fact- a recent study showed that The United States has one of the lowest voting turnout rates of any developed country Research shows that encouraging 16-year-olds to vote starts political discussions with adults, and a “Trickle up” effect that increases voter turnout in all other age groupsThese same studies have shown that when eligible, a 16-year-old is more likely to cast their first vote at 16, than an 18-year-old who is given their first year of eligibility at 18.  


16-year-olds treated like an adult in the eyes of the government in many ways. In all states, a 16-year-old can become emancipated, and therefore live independently. According to the U.S. Department of Labor45.7% of young adults in the U.S. are employed. There are 17-year-olds in the military. The government will put a gun in the hands of someone who just turned 17, and train them how to kill before they are even considered to have a developed enough brain to vote.  


In conclusion, the inconsistent treatment of 16 and 17-year-olds by the government, and the lifelong positive impact of voters’ turnout combines to not only show why the current voting age is unfair- but also shows why decreasing the voting age has major benefits16-year-olds are taxed, they can drive, and can join the military. And they should be able to vote.  


Arguments Against 16-Year-Olds to Vote. (Alessandro Romero):  

First, adolescents even at the age of sixteen or seventeen, are still developing their brain. The National Insitute of Mental Health posted a brochure regarding seven important facts about the teen brain. They state within the second point of the brochure, “Though the brain may be done growing in size, it does not finish developing and maturing until the mid- to late 20s.” It is important to have well informed and structured opinions that cannot be perverted by thoughts that are underdeveloped. The youth need to time to develop their minds to be in a more adequate state before they can vote. Voting is a core tenet of proper democracy. If a vote is from a biologically underdeveloped mind, then democracy cannot be to the standard that it needs to be. Overall, the developing teen brain should not be involved in voting as the nation needs votes to be in the right state of mind to vote. 

Sequentially, not only is the adolescent mind underdeveloped, they are not fully educated yet. For example, our current school curriculum has only seniors read George Orwell’s “1984,” which is one of the most influential political commentaries in the last century. If we were to have still 16 to 17-year-old students vote, they would cast their ballot without gaining insight from fully studying 1984. Even when students learn about politics, they are only starting to understand the nuances of politics with clubs and classes. In conclusion, students do not have the full knowledge that is needed to make an informed vote. 

Finally, students below the age of 18 do not have the ability to fully experience adulthood. At least at the age of 18, the citizen starts the journey of adulthood. A citizen that is an adult can understand the many impacts government has on adults and their lives. The high school students are in a stage where they do not worry about the burden adults have. Most students do not have the chance to experience or gain full insight of adulthood, because they are still minors under United States jurisdiction. If they were to vote, they would decide matters that impact adults lives and potential their own soon, but they are ill equipped to understand fully what they are voting. A student who is still in the middle of high school, for instance, does not know how a change in taxes would affect them yet.  To summarize, a student could vote on adult matters, but they do not have the proper experience to make that vote. 


In response to “Arguments Against 16-Year-Olds to Vote. (Dominic Monacelli): 


The idea that the brain is not developed enough to vote at the age of 16 is an outdated one According to a study conducted in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science found that, “On measures of civic knowledge, political skills, political efficacy, and tolerance, 16-year-olds, on average, are obtaining scores similar to those of adults… Adolescents in this age range are developmentally ready to vote.” 


The qualification of education is not needed for voting. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 bans “tests of any device” (History). Because of this, restricting a voter due to their education level is illegal.  


The assumption of age being an obstacle of understanding of the world is plain untrue. In 2017, when Austria lowered their voting age to 16, Markus Wagner, Ph.D., Social Sciences Professor at the University of Vienna, noted that “the quality of these [younger] citizens’ choices is similar to that of older voters, so they do cast votes in ways that enable their interests to be represented equally well” 


In Response to “The United States Should Lower the Federal Voting Age to 16. (Alessandro Romero) 

Regarding high voter turnout, it is important that the everyone eligible votes in the United States, but we can encourage voting through other means. Students are only beginning to experience the nuances of politics, and it is good to create discourse with them about these new topics. However, it is irresponsible to have people with novice knowledge of politics to be a part of votes that have real-world impacts. With that in hand, students could practice political thought in clubs and classes, but it is merely practice and nothing more. Practicing politics can flatten misinformation formed by youth without it affecting the real-world. Therefore, the nation should not lower the age standard for voting because it can merely encourage more discussion. 

 As for a 16-year-old building independence, while there are ways they can get emancipated, it is visibly apparent that most students are not emancipated. Also, a student emancipation must be approved before the emancipation is taken into effect. The Cornel Law School state in an article about minor emancipation, If a state does not have a specific emancipation statute or even a procedural rule, the court may act as the primary arbiter of cases involving a minor’s claim to emancipated legal status.  A state or judge would have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a teenager is right for emancipation. If a judge or state must decide whether the teen is ready, it is likely that not all teens should be independent. It would be would not make sense that someone who a judge or state would not see fit in living independent lives can have a say in things meant for the independent. In conclusion, just because some 16-year-olds have independence, does not mean that all 16-year-olds can be independent or be able to vote. 

In opposition to the point about military, a 17-year-old can indeed join the military, but they still must go through a lengthier process of joining the military as a minor. According to the Today s Military website, a website produced by the United States Department of Defense, Military and service academy minimum entrance age requirements are 17 with parental consent or 18 without parental consent.  This means a minor cannot join the military based on their own decision. It is ultimately the responsibility of the parent of the 17-year-old, which means the minor is not able to make an independent choice. If a minor can still be denied access to military without consent, how will they make an independent decision? To summarize, a 17-year-old decision of joining the military is based on parents‘ consent, so the 17-year-old still is not able to make a major choice or vote by themselves. 

It is also false to say train them how to kill before they are even considered to have a developed enough brain to vote as the military actually does care about education. In fact, the Today s Military website states, Success in any branch of the Military depends on a good education. A high school diploma is most desirable. Candidates with a GED (General Education Development) certificate can enlist, but some Services may limit their opportunities.  Not only does the military value education, you need to pass high school in order to be a part of the military. The military requires each soldier to be intelligent, so to say their brains devolve would be erroneous. Thus, the military does want to dumb the brain for they require one to be intelligent to even join, which does not impede one’s ability to vote. 



Overall, students of the ages of 16 to 17 want the chance to put their voice unto the ballot. However, there is a debate going on whether these adolescents should be able to vote. On the pro voting side, they cite that students should be able to vote. First, they cite their ability to create high voter turnout. Also, those in favor also state that teens can be independent through emancipation. Lastly, they make more claim that the military age contradicts the logic of voting age and implied military can diminish the mind. On the other side of the argument they claim that 16 to 17-year-olds should not be able to vote. Initially, they claim that students do not have the mental development to decide what is the best option for voting. Similarly, they also state that students do not have enough knowledge to make a vote as they have not completed school. Finally, they claim that students do not have the experience of adulthood they need to fully grasp what they are voting for. The contrast of argument is sure to lead to more discussion in the future 

These sides also looked at their points. In the beginning, the opposing side claimed that high voter turnout did not matter if they were not quality votes. Also, the opposition said that emancipation needed to pass a varying degree of requirements in each state and that it was not a reliable source to say most teens are capable of voting. Lastly, the opposing side claims the military requires both intelligence and parent consent to join, which means they are not capable of creating an impactful legal decision and need to be intelligent in the first place. To counter against the opposition, the side in favor of voting makes several counterpoints. First, they claim the brain is indeed capable of making such votes at the age of 16. Second, they state that education is not needed as a requirement for voting. Finally, age is not an obstacle, since we can represent all interests. The two sides are critiquing to defend their argument, so it seems that the debate will remain heavily contested.