In the 2020 presidential election, only 51.4% of citizens ages 18 to 24 voted. Young people have the lowest voting turnout of any age group and this means that our beliefs aren’t being adequately represented in the government of this country. If the national voting age were to be lowered, this would mean that more teenagers would have the opportunity to make their voices heard and begin to make changes to the unequal delegation of this country’s leaders.
For many high schoolers, these are the years that we start taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. We are strengthening our personal opinions and beliefs, while growing away from those of our families. All of the laws that adults have to follow, we have to follow as well, but our voices aren’t heard during the making of them. In fact, in 2019 there were an estimated 53,000 U.S. minors that were tried as adults in the court of law. That means that there were 53,000 people that faced the possibility of their entire future being jeopardized because of things they couldn’t even vote on.
Another challenge for some families is that the adults of the household can’t vote because of reasons such as not having legal citizenship, being unable to get themselves to polling stations due to disabilities, or because of other debilitating circumstances. Many of these people participate in American society and economy the same way as everyone else, but are unable to advocate for themselves. If the voting age were to be lowered, teenagers living at home would be able to serve as a voice to represent not only themselves, but their families as well. This may seem too big of a job for teenagers because they still have to balance school, a social life, and potentially a job, but it teaches them how to take on the responsibilities and learn the process of voting before they are completely independent. These are crucial skills for later in life, and if you learn them young and make a habit of voting before you are out of the house, it is much more likely that you will continue to do these things and won’t have to deal with the stress of learning them without the support system that is available in high school.
A current pressing concern for many people in this country is the overturning of Roe v. Wade. There are now 13 states that have a full ban on abortion and five more with a limited gestation period in which the procedure can be preformed. In these states, if a 12 year old were to get pregnant they would most likely be forced to carry to term. If kids are able to get pregnant, why can’t 16 year olds vote on the laws that affect what they are allowed to do with their own bodies? The people passing these bills are people who aren’t affected by them, but if the voting age were lowered it could compel more of the younger generation to vote on laws like this that have the potential to uproot their entire lives.
As young people of this country, we need to have the ability to voice our opinions. Lowering the voting age to 16 would give us this opportunity and would help us to see a reflection of ourselves in the government.