PCP: Should the current minimum voting age change?

Cooper Anderson and Myrna Cross

Protect the polls by Cooper Anderson

The right to vote is one of the various freedoms and privileges we share as citizens of the United States, with many eagerly anticipating the day they are finally able to practice their civic duty for the first time. Reaching the age of 18 is significant, not only due to the fact that you have been labeled as an adult and functioning member of society but because you can get out to the polls and cast your ballot. 

Even though it has been the norm since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that 18 years old is the benchmark age to begin voting, it may be necessary that we as a society reevaluate this standard. It would be beneficial to push the voting age to at least 21, which would ensure the level of maturity and legitimacy required during the process of electing future government officials. 

Despite the fact that 18-year-olds are technically adults, they are very much still children. It is very common for teenagers attempting to navigate the complex and twisted world of politics to feel frustrated and defeated. This is because, as a whole, they barely receive any education on the political and economic state of the world, so how on Earth are they supposed to decipher which candidate is the superior choice for office solely based on the policies they are promising to carry out? There are 16- to 18-year-olds out there who are more than capable of casting a vote based on their higher level of political awareness, but the harsh reality is that most are not. This leads to an even larger issue at hand, which is that most 18-year-olds take their privilege of voting for granted and just simply don’t vote. According to the United States Census Bureau, voter turnout was lowest among those between the ages of 18-24 during the 2020 presidential election, with only 51.4% casting a ballot. Opening up the ability for 18-year-olds has evidently worked against us since it did not increase voter turnout during election season, but actually just increased the number of people that avoid it. 

Although this may not be the case for all, most 18-year-olds are not self-reliant and have not gone through enough life experiences to fully understand the magnitude and ramifications of voting. As a 21-year-old, there is a greater chance that someone is fresh out of college, working a full-time job, paying for a place to live, and providing for themselves. Since at this age people have gained more experience being a member of society, they will cast much more educated and knowledgeable votes compared to a teenager. 

In general, voting is such a special liberty we have living in America, and we must work to ensure that it never gets taken for granted. This starts with eliminating the ability for 18-year-olds to vote, and instead raising the age to that of a much more well-informed citizen.


Preserve young voters’ rights by Myrna Cross

From the age of 13, kids are legally allowed to get a job. At 16, they can drive and even get married with parent permission. Yet, some still argue that the voting age should be raised from 18. 

One of the biggest misconceptions about the legal voting age is that teenagers lack the ability to fully understand elections and vote fairly. However, this is not the case. Eighteen-year-olds are completely capable of making educated decisions and helping their country choose its leaders. 

In 1972, the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 because many felt it was unfair to ship young adults off to war, but not allow them to vote in elections. This law to allow young citizens to vote was put in place for a reason–to allow the voting process to be more progressive and give a voice to all U.S citizens. Taking this right away now would be detrimental to the progression of our country and a radical and unnecessary change. 

The biggest concern for many involving the voting age is that it reduces the turnout of overall voters during election periods. While it is true that young voters have been underrepresented in the polls since 2003, it’s not fair to take away the entire age group’s right to vote just because not every newly 18-year-old is fully engaged in the electoral process. It makes sense that this age group has the least amount of voters considering they were just granted the right to vote, but this doesn’t mean that we should be able to take it away. 

In the last presidential election, young voters were heading to polls in large waves to vote for Democratic candidates. According to The Guardian, 72% of women in the 18-29 age group voted for the Democratic party. This correlation between age and political views often makes Republicans unhappy, because it causes them to lose votes. Due to this, the Republican party has been heavy on raising the voting age in recent years. 

How is it fair to take away the rights of thousands of voters just because their views don’t align with your political party? The belief that we should raise the legal voting age often comes from a fear of youth; a belief that they are “brainwashed” or could ruin the polls with their “biased” votes. 

Specifically in the last few years with the rise of social media, teenagers have become super involved in politics and social issues. A lot of teenagers took the time in quarantine to educate themselves and try to become more socially aware, especially during the 2020 elections. 

Some may argue that this led to teenagers being fed biased misinformation, and while it is true that fake news often circulates around social media platforms, 18-year-olds are mature enough to differentiate the truth from lies. If anything, growing up in the age of technology and social media has allowed teenagers to stay more involved with politics and form their own educated opinions on different situations. Teenagers in this day in age are incredibly well-informed on significant issues, whether it be national or local. Taking away their right to vote is simultaneously taking away not only their voice but their rights. 

Raising the voting age is implying that 18 year olds are not adults, which contradicts everything that we’ve been ingraining in young minds for generations. The legal age to vote is perfectly fine the way it is and should stay intact for a multitude of reasons to include every adult in our country in the big decisions that are made.