Why I Should be Able to Vote

My name is Kenny; I’m a sixteen-year-old high school student at a small private school in Boston. This year I’ve begun to follow politics. I listen to podcasts, read articles, and during the summer, I plan on volunteering for a political campaign. Politics are very interesting to me, and I’m excited to participate, but there is one very important thing standing between the political system and me. Because of my age, I won’t be able to vote in a presidential election until 2020. Although my vote in the general election doesn’t really matter in liberal Massachusetts, it’s frustrating that I won’t have a voice in the upcoming election.

Even though I’m not allowed to vote, I’m completely allowed to influence the election in other ways that can have a bigger impact. I have an after school job and I’m allowed to donate all of my earnings (up to $2700!) to the candidate of my choosing. As I mentioned earlier, I will be volunteering for a political campaign in the summer, which will certainly have more influence than an individual vote. Considering that I’m free to do all of those things, why can’t I vote?

The most common argument against lowering the voting age is that people my age aren’t informed. The problem with this argument is that a person’s right to vote isn’t tied to their intelligence, or how informed they are. It isn’t as if a person has to pass a test demonstrating that they are smart and informed in order to vote, and when that was the case, the United States passed laws making those tests illegal. Separating intelligence from the right to vote became one of the main focuses of the Civil Rights Movement. In talking to many people who are allowed to vote, it’s become apparent to me that I’m just as informed as many people who will vote in November. I would even argue that I’m more informed about politics than most of the electorate. After my dad cast his vote in the Massachusetts primary, he called to ask me if he had voted for the right person. I am just as intellectually capable as an eighteen-year-old. And even though the education system is very flawed, it agrees with me. In most schools, sixteen-year-olds can be in the same classes as eighteen-year-olds. If I’m allowed to learn the same content as legal adults, why am I not allowed to voice my opinions in the same way they are?

The current voting age is completely arbitrary. The only reason people believe the voting age should be eighteen is because it’s the status quo and has been that way since 1971. If congress had decided to make the voting age sixteen instead of eighteen, people wouldn’t have been protesting in the streets. The age of eighteen is completely random and only adds to the United States’ disappointing voter turnout.

There is no reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to influence the direction of the country I live in. I pay taxes, I’m just as informed as a typical voter, and the future of the United States is very important to me (I’ll be living here for the next ~60 years!). I hope that in the future, lawmakers will consider lowering the voting age, in order to make sure that the course of the United States is influenced by more of its citizens.

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