Why the voting age should be lowered

Louis Braille invented the Braille system at age 15, Alexander the Great founded his first colony at 16, and Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17. 

They accomplished these things before the age of 18.

Turning 18 is a major milestone for many, signaling a transition from adolescence to adulthood. It’s a year of possibility, and in the United States, 18 is the age at which a person can vote.

Lowering the voting age is a new concept for many people, but it might be time for a change. There are actually many reasons why extending voting rights to 16 year olds in local elections is a good idea.

People under the age of 18 are capable of so much. They certainly have the capacity to make rational choices on the candidate they feel will best represent their voice.

According to research summarized in the article “Let Science Determine the Voting Age,” by adolescent expert and Temple university professor of psychology Laurence Steinberg, 16 year olds do not perform as well as older adults in impulse driven situations where emotions run high, but voting does not fall into this category. Rather, voting falls into what is known as “cold-cognition,” a thought out decision making process in which 16 year olds perform just as well as adults.

Furthermore, 16 year olds are affected by the law just as much as anyone. Those who work are expected to pay income taxes, and some (depending on the severity of the crime) are even tried in adult courts. People who are mature enough to carry the weight of these adult responsibilities should be included in the policy making decisions of this world they live in.

Times are changing and people with it. Since 2018, lawmakers in nearly a dozen states and the U.S. Congress has proposed measures that would lower the voting age.

If you are under the age of 18 (and even if you aren’t), and the feeling of wanting to be more involved in the community you live in is resonating within you, maybe it’s time for you to stand up and be a part of something. There are actions you can take to make a lower voting age in Michigan a reality. Vote 16 MI is a great place where you can volunteer and show support for this movement. 

Takoma Park, Maryland was the first U.S. city to allow 16 year olds to vote in city elections to increase voter turnout, and the idea is gaining support. 

The New York Times article “16-Year-Olds Want a Vote. Fifty Years Ago, So Did 18-Year-Olds” by Maggie Astor effectively highlights how history is repeating itself. In 1969, when the voting age was 21, 18 year olds felt that if they were “old enough to fight,” they were old enough to vote. Today, younger still activists feel they have “skin in the game”— they are affected, so they should have a say. Through movements like March for Our Lives, which was created by high schoolers after the 2018 Douglas High School Shooting, teenagers have already made a difference.

16 year olds deserve more of a voice in local elections.