While the 2018 midterm elections saw the highest turnout in a non-presidential year since 1914, that turnout was still under 50%. Presidential election turnout hovers between 50% and 65%. This is low. While reforms making it easier to vote should be implemented as well, we can also increase civic engagement and regular voting by lowering the voting age.
Studies show that allowing younger people to vote has positive impacts on overall voting habits. Localities that have lowered the voting age have seen an increase in voter turnout across all age groups. Other studies have shown that delaying when a person first votes (because of birth dates and election cycles) decreases the likelihood that they will become a regular voter.
At 16, Americans don’t have hourly limits imposed on their work, and they pay taxes. Their livelihoods are directly impacted by legislation, and they should therefore be allowed to vote for their representatives.
Additionally, because of election cycles, there’s a level of unfairness that comes with what year a person is born. Senators are on a 6-year cycle, and the president is on a 4-year cycle, not to mention local offices. Someone born at the wrong time in a cycle would have to wait much longer to cast a ballot for certain offices than someone born at another time. While that’s true if the voting age is lowered to 16, it decreases the age at which the person is first allowed to vote for that office, thus allowing them to have a longer period of their life where they feel represented.
Problems to be Solved
- checkThe voter turnout rate in the United States is low.
- checkThe longer before one votes, the less likely they are to become a regular voter.
- checkYoung people are taxed without having the ability to influence policy through electing representatives.
- The perspective of young people is discounted in our politics. We say that this is their fault because they do not vote at as high a rate as others. One way to change this is to lower the voting age and get them in the habit of voting earlier. If we allow voting at a younger age, we will encourage people to become lifetime voters at higher levels. It will be good for our democracy and would increase attentiveness to long-term problems like climate change over time.
- checkIncrease civic engagement
- checkGive citizens the ability to influence policy that impacts their economic futures
As President I will...
- Lower the voting age for federal elections to 16.