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• There has been a number of arguments centered around the current age requirement for voting. YES! Magazine discusses the #Vote16 movement and how the younger generation can positively contribute to civic society.
• With school shootings in the news regularly and the rise of youth-led organizations such as March For Our Lives and Black Lives Matter, will there be a bigger push to lower the voting age? It would be neglectful to underestimate the power and intelligence of the next generation.
• Learn more about the voting age debate and teen activism here.
The March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., on March 24, when high school students rallied against gun violence, demonstrated that teenage citizens have voices that deserve to be heard and needs that deserve to be addressed by our leaders. In order for teenagers to have a fighting chance at winning, however, they need votes.
Several nations, including Austria, Argentina, and Brazil, already have 16-year-olds voting, and the United States is slowly moving in that direction, with one city at a time implementing a voting age of 16.
While progress is slow, the benefits are clear. Teenagers, not yet distracted by the stresses of college or full-time work, have the time and have supportive adults around to help them navigate the complexities of voter registration. By starting their voting lives at a time when it’s easy, youth begin a habit of voting instead of a habit of staying home.
It should be no surprise, then, that the voter-suppression crowd hates the #Vote16 movement.
Kids will just vote the same way their parents do, claim parents who overestimate their influence. But ScotCen Social Research’s 2013 study of 16-year-old voters in Scotland found they were no more influenced by their parents than older voters were.
Teenagers would just vote for celebrities, claim others. But exit polls show it was voters over 40 who elected a reality TV star as president and an action movie star as governor of California. In both elections, the youngest voters voted for more qualified candidates.
Kids’ brains aren’t fully developed yet, claim people who get their science news from Facebook. But actual scientists know better. As Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University, wrote, “the skills necessary to make informed decisions are firmly in place by 16. By that age, adolescents can gather and process information, weigh pros and cons, reason logically with facts, and take time before making a decision. Teenagers may sometimes make bad choices, but statistically speaking, they do not make them any more often than adults do.”
Of all the arguments made against #Vote16, the most infuriating may be this: They don’t want to vote. Kids are apathetic.
Read the full article about the #Vote16 movement by Bill Bystricky at YES! Magazine.