Over the years, and especially now, there has been a growing movement in lowering the minimum voting age to 16. Several Democratic members of Congress, including Representatives Grace Meng, Ayanna Pressley, and Jan Schakowsky, have introduced legislation this year to do just that. Pressley stated, “My amendment with Congresswomen Meng and Schakowsky would lower the voting age for federal elections from eighteen to sixteen years of age, and allow young people to have a say in our federal elections and the policies that impact their lives today and will shape the nation in their lifetime.” Even leaders such as Nancy Pelosi has stated their support for lowering the voting age. While the idea of lowering the voting age might seem as a noble service to the younger generations, I do not think 16 year old individuals should have the right to vote.
It wasn’t that long ago, about 3 years, that I was 16 and began the process to pre-register to vote. In this time, I was still trying to find my stance on important issues. I pretty much knew the “basics” of politics, but I would not consider myself educated to the extent of knowing who to vote for and what mattered to me the most. And with comparing my views then and now, although they did not change drastically they are not the exact same, which says a lot about how much a person can grow and change their opinions from 16 to 18 years old.
A major argument that is brought to the table in defense of lowering the voting age is that 16-year-olds are practically as, or even more, informed as adults. I agree, there are a lot of 16-year-olds that are heavily politically educated and know their stances on very important issues. Unfortunately, from my perspective, the majority generation Z that currently seems to get their news from Tik Tok or an infographic Instagram page are not as informed as they think. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, but at the end of the day a rightfully informed voter should be the only voter.
Many 16 and 17-year-olds are still considered dependents when it comes to finances as well, which is definitely a factor that affects voting patterns. I found a great quote from Jennifer C. Braceras from the Independent Women’s Forum in which she states: “At 16, most kids have little awareness of politics, civics or American history, and they have little life experience to inform their decisions…Most don’t even pay for their own cellphones — let alone groceries, rent, utility bills or property taxes.” There indeed are people in my generation who pay attention to the news headlines are excited to vote, or even live independently with bills and taxes, but in all honestly that is not how the majority is. On the bright side, those who are informed and are planning to vote when they turn 18 are heavily encouraging their peers to do the same. Instead of trying to rush kids to read up on politics and vote at 16, they should take these years to become properly informed so that when they vote they feel their formed, more matured opinions are actually being represented.