Voting requires maturity

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Voting requires maturity

Nichole Shaw, Opinions Columnist

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There has been a lot of energy put behind the consideration of lowering the voting age in recent months. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., is pushing for the voting age to be 16 years old, instead of the 18 in place. She said young people are the trailblazers of current issues in the nation, leading the way in gun-violence and climate-change movements and calls to action from government officials and politicians. Thus, she argues, she believes they should have a say in who represents them in office.

I disagree.

It is true that in recent years, younger individuals such as those involved and leading the March for Our Lives Movement have been making significant headway in gun-control reform and calling attention to serious issues such as gun violence. They have done their research and are prepped and ready to talk to real government officials and politicians to make a change in the nation. But consider this — their brains are still at the antepenultimate stage of development in life.

“The development and maturation of the prefrontal cortex occurs primarily during adolescence and is fully accomplished at the age of 25 years,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Their brains are still on the fast track to develop, and they are increasingly susceptible to influence from those people they see who hold authority. So yes, they are putting an amazing amount of energy behind serious conversations about gun control and climate change, and that energy should continue. However, what concerns me about lowering the voting age is the inherent influence their parents, teachers, and others have on their candidate support.

Think about it. When I was 16, almost everyone I knew at school had the same political views as their parents, still unable to come up with a complete original thought about why they supported a candidate who was running for office. For that, I’m thankful that I, along with my peers, were unable to vote, as understanding your true alignment with a party and the policies you want to see carried out by our government is of the utmost importance, rather than supporting someone just because mommy and daddy said so.

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