Should We Lower the Voting Age to 16?

By Rachel Alexander Published on March 26, 2019

It’s a bad idea, but some leading Democrats support it. They want to lower the voting age to 16. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supports it, as well as 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. “I think it’s really important to capture kids when they’re in high school, when they’re interested in all of this, when they’re learning about government, to be able to vote,” said Pelosi.

The House of Representatives recently turned down a proposal to do that. First-term congressman Ayanna Pressley (D-Ma) offered an amendment to the “For The People Act.” The amendment failed. It barely won a majority of Democrats. 125 voted for it, with 108 voting against it. Republicans voted against it 197 to 1.

Why do Democrats push such a bad idea? They won’t admit it, but they think a majority of the kids brainwashed by the public school system will vote Democrat. This generation’s youth have grown up with school shootings, climate change propaganda and LGBTQ+ indoctrination. The Pew Research Center found that Generation Z shares the same viewpoints on political issues with Millennials, not the more conservative older generations. Pressley admitted the activism of young gun control advocates is one of the reasons for lowering the age.

The 26th Amendment was enacted in 1971. It lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 and gave Congress the power to change it. Young men were being drafted into fighting in the Viet Nam war, and supporters argued that if 18-year-olds were old enough to fight, they were old enough to vote. Republicans argue that the amendment intended to keep the voting age thereafter at 18, because the language said the rights of people 18 and older can’t be denied. Now Democrats want to drop that age two more years, using similar arguments

But are youth at age 16 informed and responsible enough to vote? No. 

Society Already Treats 16-Year-Olds As Adults

The main argument proponents use is that 16-year olds are already treated like adults in many ways. They can drive in most states and work without restrictions on their hours. They have to pay taxes.

Just because someone is suited at age 16 to drive or work, does not mean they are ready to vote yet.

But just because someone is suited at age 16 to drive or work, does not mean they are ready to vote yet. They aren’t yet at that transitional stage of 18 where they’re trying to move out of their parents’ houses and starting to make it on their own. They’ve never known yet what it’s like to pay their own way. They don’t what it’s like to be responsible for others.

Robert Natelson at The Daily Caller argues that the voting age shouldn’t have been reduced from 21 to 18 in 1971, and says that it should instead be increased to 25! Science has shown that the brain does not fully mature until age 25.

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There is a reason why the drinking age increased to 21 around the country. Teenagers are less responsible. Some states have upped the driving age to 18 or added restrictions. Teens can no longer buy cigarettes before age 21. They can’t even use a tanning bed without parental and medical approval. A federal appeals court is considering whether to reduce the sentence of one of the DC snipers who was 17 at the time of the shootings because he he lacked the requisite judgment to know better due to “the transient immaturity of youth.”

The Importance of Civics 

Proponents argue that it will increase civic interest in high school. They claim that since issues like working conditions affect 16 and 17-year olds, they should have a say in them. However, the public schools do a poor job of teaching civics and the Constitution. Organizations like Prager U frequently post videos of interviews with teenagers about politics and history. Their knowledge is dismal. Most of them cannot name their state representative or senator, and are clueless about the three branches of government.

Another argument in favor of lowering the voting age is that voting is more likely to become a habit if done for the first time at age 16. Studies from places where the voting age is 16 reveal that 16-year olds vote at higher rates than older first-time voters. A few cities in the U.S. currently set the voting age at 16. Some states allow 17-year olds to vote in primaries if they turn 18 before the general election. But are they educated voters? If not, is that really any better?

Proponents say we should lower the voting age to balance out demographics. There has been a surge of elderly people as the Baby Boomers age. But if the 16- and 17-year olds merely vote more liberal, and the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers and Gen X vote more conservative, isn’t that merely balancing out partisan views?

Remember Beto

While there are plenty of arguments in favor of lowering the voting age, most of them can be refuted. The balance of the evidence leans toward keeping it at age 18.

What more evidence? Beto O’Rourke is open to lowering the voting age, but what did he do as a teenager? At 15, a few months before he’d be able to vote under the Democrats’ proposal, he penned a piece that said he fantasized about running over children. When confronted about it, he said it was “stuff I was part of as a teenager.” 

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. Send tips to rachel.alexander@stream.org. 

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