16-year-olds deserve a voice

Elijah Helton, Opinions Columnist

Let’s get something out of the way first.

Lowering the voting age is objectively an electoral advantage for Democrats, who have stronger support among younger people. And of course, Republicans have an incentive to fight any change that would make it harder for them to win elections. But let’s put all that aside and consider this topic in good faith.

Most objections I hear about lowering the voting age to 16 relate to perceptions that they aren’t smart enough to make good voting decisions. But is that really a fair thing to say? There are plenty of stupid people in the world. I know people who think vaccines cause autism and that former President Obama is a communist Muslim. If we’re actually concerned with having an intelligent and discerning electorate, arbitrarily excluding some young people isn’t going to do much to help.

A related counterargument is that these potential new voters will just vote the same way as their parents because they don’t know better. Again, this insults the intelligence of these people who are capable enough to drive and even buy a rifle in some states. What’s more is that voters already tend to vote the same way as their parents. In general, the political ideology of one’s parents will greatly influence one’s own politics.

Things are even worse if you consider a tax-paying citizen who happens to be under the current voting age.

How unfair is it that a sophomore in high school pays taxes on a part-time job and doesn’t have a say in how those taxes are used? If you can pay into the government, you should have a voice in the government. An American 18 and over can vote while doing as little as they want to contribute to society, but a high-schooler who works 20 hours a week, volunteers, and is engaged in the community has no official say in how our government is run.

If we’re going to have a country of and by the people, we need to include all the people, not just those who remember dial-up internet and the Taco Bell dog.

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