A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Voting age reconsidered after school shootings put teens in politics

Voting is significant in any working democracy, the US included. People have to vote in order to elect politicians to represent their ideals and values. As a result of this, the voting age has been a debate issue for decades.

This issue has resurfaced recently after the shooting at Stoneman Majorie High School in  Parkland, Fl. After students across the country decided to become activists on the issues of gun reform and police management, politicians began to argue that students should be able to vote. Students aged 16 to 17 have been more involved in political events, as well as potential victims of tragedies that lead to such events.

However, there is good reasoning to conclude that increasing the voting age would be a mistake for today’s society.

One major reason is the lack of cognitive development. Scientific research from National Public Radio (NPR), as well as various universities including the University of Rochester Medical Center, suggest that the human brain is not fully developed until as old as 25.

Even some high school students agree that political decisions may be too mature for the teenage brain to fully understand.

“Many kids are not developed at sixteen,” said junior Kiran Kharel. “They are irrational.”

Although the voting age should not be increased to 25, lowering it to 16t would leave the minimum voting age at a stage of development where people experience strong emotions, find their identity, and overall are not always capable of the rational thinking that should be considered when voting.

Another major point refers to the age for other privileges and rights within the US. Eighteen is balanced age for people to obtain certain rights and privileges,  such as voting, joining the military, buying lottery tickets and cigarettes, and various other responsibilities.

However, voting is a responsibility that not only affects the voter, but the community, state and nation as a whole. If society were to reduce the voting age to 16, then the burden of responsibility would be coming at a much sooner time, and it could overwhelm many people, much to their deficit.

Despite there being arguments against the voting age being lowered, there are some benefits. One major counterargument is that political alienation is huge for young people, so allowing them to vote would open the door for them become more involved. The benefit to this would be to teach politics and government to people by incorporating them into the world of politics and government directly.

“Sometimes, it takes someone young to see both sides of the coin,” said office management teacher Ms. Stubbs.

However, the problem is that according to Gallup, 71 percent of teens stay true to their parents’ political perspectives, meaning they are more likely to simply vote for their parents’ supported party instead of expressing free thought.

Additionally, many teens begin working around 16. When one works, they have to pay taxes. Paying taxes without the ability to vote can be called the definition of ‘taxation without representation’. The problem with this is that many people who are unable to vote also pay taxes. It becomes an ‘all or none’ mindset where society would have to give the right to everyone who pays taxes, which would unconstitutionally include non-citizens, or not allow people to get jobs unless they have the right to vote beforehand. The problem is that there is no solution to this logic, and thus cannot apply in a functioning society.
Although you might have your own opinion, think about the topic deeply We need to be able to develop and educate teenagers for a period of time before they make large-scale decisions.





4. http://news.gallup.com/poll/14515/teens-stay-true-parents-political-perspectives.aspx