OPINION: 16-year-olds deserve to have their voice heard


Amelia Howell

Only 14 states currently allow 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote.

Election Day 2019 is today, Nov. 5, and according to the United States Election Project, only 49.3 percent of citizens over or at the age of 18 voted during the 2018 midterm election. Recently, there has been a debate on whether or not to lower the voting age to 16.

California and 13 other states allow citizens to pre-register to vote at 16 years of age, and four states allow it by 17 years.

Although this law is a good step towards drawing younger voters to the polls, citizens should be allowed to cast their vote at 16.

Many laws that adults are voting on affect 16 year olds directly. In the case of gun violence in schools, students have had to stand up in other ways since they don’t have the vote. For example, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida occurred on Feb. 14, 2018, which left 17 people dead, including 14 teenagers. David Hogg and a group of other students created a student-led demonstration to prevent gun violence in the U.S. called “March for Our Lives.”

According to The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, hundreds of thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C. and over one million supporters in sister marches across the world participated in the March for Our Lives movement. The activists even traveled around on a bus and hosted voter registration drives, with the main goal of increasing young voters in midterm elections.

This movement exemplifies how young people should have a say in the laws that affect them. These students are in school, so it only makes sense for them to vote about laws that affect their education and their lives.

Many 16-year-olds have jobs, and some may be required to pay taxes. According to PocketSense, a website devoted to helping people manage money, teens at 16 could have to pay taxes depending on whether their earned, unearned or combination income exceeds certain limits. However, they have no voice in order to potentially change the way they are taxed.

In the past, women and African Americans did not have the opportunity to make changes in laws that affected them, similar to how young adults are denied this privilege today.

Some might argue that teens mainly make decisions with the part of their brains called hot cognition, which is based off of emotion and impulse. But since most 16-year-olds are still living with their parents, they can be guided and supported while voting.

Also, many people already have an idea of who they want to vote for. The motive of making an irrational decision right on the spot is not a strong argument.

Adding a new voting group has been done before, so this is not something completely spontaneous. Thus, 16-year-olds should vote to have a voice on how the world is affecting them everyday.