Should The Voting Age Be Lowered to 16?
An article by CRF Staff.
Who can vote and who can't? This question has plagued our nation throughout its history. In colonial times, only white male landowners could vote. In 1870, the 15th Amendment stated that the right to vote "â€¦shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Fifty years later, in 1920, another landmark amendment, the 19th, was passed. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
Although the 15th Amendment guaranteed that all African-American males could vote but, in reality, those rights were not implemented until Congress passed the Civil Rights Act 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
For a century, the voting age was 21 and older. During the Vietnam War, however, young activists protested the 21-year-old age limit. "How is it that 18-20 year olds are being drafted into the army and dying for their country," they asked, "without the right to vote?" In response to this pressure, the 26th Amendment was passed in 1971, giving the vote to all U.S. citizens 18 years of age or older.
All of these amendments to the U.S. Constitution were important victories for democracy, but they didn't happen overnight. Disenfranchised members of American society (African-Americans, women, young people) had to gather popular support for their cause and persuade policymakers about the moral and constitutional basis for their position.
Despite the difficulties involved in amending the Constitution, many people are advocating that the voting age be lowered to 16. Others are adamantly opposed. Why do both sides think voting age is important?
- In today's world, 16- and 17-year-olds are more mature and responsible than ever. There is no significant difference between the voting ability of a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old.
- Sixteen- and 17-year-olds who are old enough to work and pay taxes should be able to elect representatives to keep their interests in mind after they turn 18.
- Getting young people to vote early, while they still have stable living conditions (e.g., living with their parents) might set good voting habits and increase the possibility that young voters will continue to vote regularly as adults.
- Allowing young people to vote will increase the available pool of voters and therefore increase representation and improve our democracy.
- At age 16, most young people are not mature enough to make informed decisions.
- Young people will not take voting seriously or will simply vote for or against candidates as a reflection of-or reaction against-their parents' voting habits and political preferences.
- Low 18-24 year-old voter turnout reveals that many older teens don't vote. Accordingly, why would younger teens vote?
- Allowing young people to vote would only widen the pool of uninformed voters-and the current status quo protects against that.
Regardless of your opinion, it takes a lot of persuading to amend the United States Constitution. So, if you 16-18-year-olds think that you should be able to vote-then contact your elected officials and tell them what you think!
More information on lowering the voting age to 16:
Vote at 16 Check out their latest news link
Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age compiled by the National Youth Rights Association
Pro/Con list for Lowering the Voting Age Compiled by the International Debate Education Association (IDEA)
Votes at 16 Organization in United Kingdom
more on the issue...