Why not to lower

The idea of expanding who can vote has long been disputed. The idea that voting is a basic right, while fundamentally true, has long been a controversial idea. Restricting the vote by race, class, or gender has been established as constitutionally wrong, but restricting votes by age adds a whole new level of complexity to the issue.

There’s a reason the voting age hasn’t been lowered after many years of discussion. In 1971, 18-20 year-olds were given the right to vote, supported by the fact that eighteen year-olds were fighting in Vietnam. During the 1972 election, only 50 percent of the group exercised their right and the rate has since fallen. In the 2014 elections, only 19.9 percent of 18-29 year-olds voted. If such a low percentage of young adults voted, why should even younger individuals be given this right?

There really is no apparent reason why the voting age should be lowered. Unlike in 1971, the government isn’t asking younger citizens to participate in any civic duties. Individuals under the age of eighteen aren’t in the military, they aren’t writing checks to the government to pay taxes; they still live with their parents who do all these things and many policies don’t directly affect minors.


In fact, the age to do many things has been increased, not decreased. Research shows that the brain is still developing until an individual’s mid-twenties. New studies have even found that full reasoning skills and abstract thought develop much later than previously thought. Thus, many legal thresholds are going up. The drinking age has been increased to twenty-one and the age an individual can drive with no restrictions is being increased to seventeen or eighteen in many states. Essentially, more significant responsibilities are only being granted with increased maturity.


Additionally, many minors still don’t fully understand how our government works. Only 24 percent of twelfth graders scored at the “proficient” level on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in civics. If so many teenagers don’t understand how government works, how can you trust them to cast informed votes for the highest government positions?


If a teenager is eager to share their voice, they can attend political rallies, advocate for their beliefs and educate others, so that when they come of voting age, they can make informed choices.