Opinion: The legal voting age should be lowered

Students reflect the future of America, and thus, should be able to make decisions for that future


Rachel Kaminski

Though some teenagers might not be informed enough to vote, the right should not be denied to those young people who work hard to stay in the know.

Gabe Santos, Arts and Entertainment Editor

This year there has been a debate on whether or not the voting age should be lowered to 16, which would allow students as young as sophomores to be able to vote in small local elections, or even presidential elections. The Mchenry Messenger recently posted a story taking the stance that it should not be lowered, with the general idea being that students “are not responsible enough to vote.” among other reasons. I believe wholeheartedly that it should be lowered.

In the article, a key point is made that students would not care about voting. The opening anecdotal paragraph lays this out pretty flat. “A student is playing on their phone and receives a text reminding them that election day is coming up. They delete the message, not being that interested in politics and knowing that most of their age group doesn’t know that much about this year’s candidates.” it says.

This argument, however, is inherently flawed. Nowhere is there a survey, statistic, or any kind of source other than a general assumption that students would not care, and are even too ignorant of politics to vote. I pose the question: If students do not care about voting, why is this a debate in the first place? A generalization of that kind is not reliable and should not be seen as such. Some may not care; some might go out and vote as soon as they can. It is not a fair assumption to make that no students, or all students for that matter, would care to vote but that it would be a mix, and thus they should have the option. In the 2020 election, only 66.1% of eligible voters actually voted. While 66.1% is the majority, the argument that students are too young to care or too preoccupied to vote, is flawed in the fact that it can be easily applied to current eligible adult voters as well. 

Saying “students would not care about voting” is a massive generalization and is just as wrong as saying “all adults do care about voting.” when 34% do not. It is not a matter of “would” or “would not,” it is a matter of “could.” There are about 8 million 16 and 17 year olds in the United States. Their addition to the voting pool would increase voter turnout over time. 

The idea of lowering the voting age isn’t some ludicrous concept either. Scotland, Wales,  Austria, Brazil, and Argentina (among many others) all have voting rights for ages as low as 16. 

Another point made by the article is that students, even if they did care to vote, would not be mature enough to make an informed vote, but this is again a large generalization. Are LGBTQ+ students, whose rights may hang in the balance in the event of a vote, taken into consideration when it is assumed students are not mature enough to vote? Are the rights of women, including young women and possibly students, taken into consideration? 

If a student’s way of life is in jeopardy, I believe that they absolutely can be informed, and mature enough to form a coherent and intelligent opinion, and should be able to vote and fight for their rights if they choose to. Furthermore, a student looking at colleges may want to vote for someone who would appeal against student loan debt, or a student who immigrated into the country might vote for a candidate who would improve immigration procedures. There are far too many scenarios in which a student *would* care and *would* be informed to assume none would care and none would be informed. 

In conclusion, The students of today are the taxpayers, workers, parents, governors, scientists, lawmakers, presidents, and in general, the adults of tomorrow. It is not fair to assume that all students are too preoccupied, too immature, or too irresponsible to vote. It discredits every single injustice or act of ignorance towards the lives of young people in the United States to say that “they don’t know enough.” *They* will be affected by the policies put in place, and *they* will have to live with decisions made by the government now so why is it that we do not allow the future of America’s people to vote on the future of America?