Why We Should Not Lower the Voting Age

Marissa Joseph, Editor-in-Chief

With the approaching midterm elections, a recent increase in polarization has generated a large increase in voter turnout. In Georgia and Texas, citizens ages 18-29 have increased their early vote rate by 500%.  This is no surprise due to the recent influx of politically active minors responding to national tragedies such as the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The augment in teenagers lending their voices to politics has prompted many to argue the voting age be lowered to accommodate the younger politically active citizens. However, the youth of America needs to wait their turn.

As law makers make and implement policy, they consider the collective voice over the wants and interests of an individual. There is slim chance for the success of any push for the voting age being lowered because it fails to consider that while there is a growing percentage of politically active highschool students, the vast majority still fail to hold an understanding of the inner workings of our democracy, political process, and major issues. It seems as though high school students have obtained a greater political consciousness due to the hyper representation of politically active students in the media; however, there is still a large majority that have not even begun to develop their personal political ideologies, leaving them to fall to the will and ideology of their parents. Allowing many under 18 to vote would simply grant their parents or those socially influencing them two votes rather than one, and we should not compromise the integrity of our democracy for the desires of some individuals.

Young people are legally disenfranchised in this country, and our constitution clearly grants the right to vote to those above the age of 18. However, there is still a large amount illegal disenfranchisement that must be resolved before there is a focus on expanding voter rights. People of low socioeconomic status are having their votes suppressed due to voting restrictions such as tougher voter ID laws, barriers to registration, and cutbacks on early voting. If as a nation, we cannot properly execute the right to vote for the citizens who the constitution already guarantees it, it is unfeasible to propose an expansion of these rights. We must first fix the issues that are already inherent and present in our system, so that when young people finally reach voting age, they have an equal opportunity to be heard.  

It is understandable that those who take a strong interest politics yearn to articulate their interests through voting; however, there are many other forms of interest articulation that young citizens may take part in. There is no law prohibiting those under 18 from writing to their Congressman to express their grievances. Additionally, as demonstrated by protest movements stemming from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, there is much power the physical manifestation of the student voice. Voting is not the only way to effectively contribute to our democracy, and the students who have a greater political understanding than their peers are already using these channels.