UNITED STATES—It is the age old debate that seems to have no end in sight: should the voting age be lowered in the United States? Before you answer that question think about it for a second. Really think about it America. There is a proposal by a U.S. Congressman Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts. I didn’t realize that the voting age had already been lowered before.
For those of you in the dark, the 26th Amendment was ratified in 1971 which changed the voting age from 21 to 18. That is actually a stunner to me, because I didn’t know that. So close to 50 years later, discussions are rambling about lowering the voting age to allow individuals at the age of 16 to cast their ballot in national elections. I’ve heard viewpoints from both sides, those who think it isn’t a bad idea for those under 18 to cast a ballot, while those opposing argues a 16 year-old is not mature enough to make such a rational decision.
If you’re looking for me to give you a clear answer, than I can’t. Why? I think there are indeed pros and cons that are valid on both sides. In one corner, you have 16 year-olds who don’t know how to do their own laundry, yet alone pack a lunch, how can we give them the power to cast a vote. On the other end, you have teens who are quite mature at a young age, those who are working part-time if not full-time jobs to help support their family, and heavily engaged in their community. Who are we to say that a teen is or isn’t mature enough to cast a vote?
Then I go back to those against the change, because do we really want to put pressure on teens to have to vote. I mean there are people right now who have the right to vote, who never vote. I’m more a opponent of those who fail to vote losing that right to vote. Some might say “how dare you?” “How dare I? How dare you for not voting in the first place.”
It baffles me and I mean it; it baffles me to the core for people to have the right to vote and to not utilize that vote. I mean nowadays it’s no excuse when you have absentee voting and people are willing to pick people up and drive them to their polling location to ensure their vote is cast and it counts. We live in a culture, where we push the importance of voting, but yet you have so many people not willing to vote.
I guess the argument that I have issues with is the maturity factor. Who says what constitutes maturity? I mean of course a 16 year-old is not as mature as an 18 or 21 year-old, but at the same time I know people in their mid-20s who are more immature than my nephew who is 16 and works a part-time job. If we’re talking about the notion of maturity that brings us to questions about the legal age for smoking and drinking alcohol which I know for a fact will cause ire with many.
I mean I think the drinking age should be pushed to 25 because there are plenty of 21 year-olds who should not be consuming alcohol because they are NOT mature enough to ensure they don’t make the wrong decision. So should we take the same stance on alcohol that we are taking with voting? I mean I suspect we will have a ton of uproar with people who would be in disagreement about altering the drinking age.
I’ll be honest if we’re basing things solely on maturity, we should make adjustments to the voting age, the age to consume alcohol and the age to smoke. If we are going to be fair, we should be fair across the board America, not just when we decide it benefits us most.