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Should the Voting Age Be Lowered?
February 24, 2023
In high school, students are often told to engage with their political environment. So why is the legal voting age 18 instead of 16?
In 1971, the 26th Amendment was passed, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. According to the Nixon Library, during the Vietnam War, the draft age was 18, resulting in much of the public wishing for suffrage for 18-year-olds. Because of this public demand, the United States granted the voting right to college-age young adults. Since then, the voting age in America has been under constant debate, with many controversial claims surrounding the topic. The result has been a lot of public backlash against lowering the voting age to 16.
According to Britannica, for over 20 years, elected officials in the U.S. have made attempts to lower the voting age, sometimes lower than 16, all of which were unsuccessful. As with most things, there are positives and negatives about lowering the voting age in the United States. ProCon.org stated three of the most popularly-debated points regarding giving the vote to 16-18 year olds: knowledge about civics, voter turn-out rates, and public opinion.
ProCon.org also noted that a “2019 Hill-HarrisX poll found that 84% of registered voters opposed lowering the voting age to 16. The poll found every age group was against 16-year-olds voting, with the most support found among those under 35, where still only 39% were in favor.” With the negative side of this debate being the most publicly supported, it appears extremely unlikely there will be a successful attempt to lower the voting age, especially since to do so, 38 state legislatures and two-thirds of both houses of Congress would have to grant approval.
A recent poll of FCHS students on Fluvanna Journalism Instagram asked students how they felt about lowering the voting the age. The results were overwhelmingly that 16-year-olds should not be able to vote, with 77% of students disagreeing that the age should be lowered, and 23% saying it should.
FCHS junior Matt Gresham is one of those students against the change. “My main reason the voting age shouldn’t be lowered is because teens haven’t really matured. But by 18, they are usually mature,” adding, “Maturity is the big thing for me.” Other students think that not only should the voting age not be lowered, it should even be raised from the age of 18.
“The voting age should be raised to 21, if anything. [People] under 18 haven’t gotten real jobs yet, and the people they vote for could [negatively] affect jobs and lead to regret,” FCHS sophomore Ivan Patchett. “And most 16-year-olds usually aren’t educated enough in politics,” he added..