Should 16 Year Olds Get To Vote?

In the wake of all of the ballot initiatives and new state laws trying to restrict access to voting, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison has taken a different approach.  He wants even more people to vote, and he’s advocating that teens as young as 16 deserve the right as well.

Via Fridley Patch, Ellison asked via Twitter, “Why shouldn’t 16-year-old vote? They can drive. Some have jobs. Let’s empower our youth…[C]ome on! 16-year-olds are pretty sharp…When is last time you talked to teens? They have their own views on things…I kicked it w(ith) bunch of kids yesterday, today. All were very smart (and) informed.”

Although there are a few countries like Ecuador, Cuba or Austria do allow 16 year-olds to vote, a majority of countries in the world have chosen either 18, or 21, as the legal voting age.  The federal voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in the United States in 1971, primarily due to the concerns raised by older teens that they could be drafted to fight in a war, but not allow to vote on the politicians who waged them.

So should the voting age be lowered again, simply because of the more “grown up” responsibilities that Ellison claims today’s teens have taken on?  With a draft no longer being enforced, is the 18 year old rule simply arbitrary now?  And even better, should we make voting mandatory, as some countries do?

Tell us what you think in the comments.

Photo credit: wikimedia commons

100 comments

Natalie S.
Natalie S.5 years ago

by what goes on **

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Natalie S.
Natalie S.5 years ago

teens are in the real world by 16, at least the ones who live on their own. And yeah, were sixteen, we see the real world be what goes on in the news paper. We are getting prepared for the real world at this age. just because we dont all live it, doesnt mean we sit at home and play barbies all day. mental patients and people in jail are aloud to vote, and a sixteen year old cant ?

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Natalie S.
Natalie S.5 years ago

It doesn't matter if our brains arent fully developed, or don't care about whats going on. The people that do care will vote and people that don't.. simply wont. Teens are the key to humanities success. Because our brains arrent fully developed, it allows us to see things in a different way. Besides, it would promote more people to vote. We are old enough and mature enough to live on our own, you cant tell me im not old enough to vote for the candidate that may do me better good in my future. More money would go towards schooling instead of millions wasted on how hst will benifit us. If we were voting, candidates would have to try to get our vote and how do you expect them to do that ?. Im only 16 and believe I should have the right to vote.

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Cinthya Mishell H.

I think this is a little stupid. MOST TEENS dont care about politics and are hooked on 9gag/facebook/youtube/twitter ect all day. stalking famous singers,actors and fasion ideas...not really caring about politics what-so-ever. -BUT MAAAAAYBE if the teens really want to vote they should be given a chance by filling up a test to see if they really know whats going on in the REAL WORLD and if they know enough then they should be allowed to vote. We all saw what happened with SOPA-teens wanted to join the battle when it involvs something they love if not then most dont care. FURTHER ON with my idea of the "chance" the test teens must do if they wish to vote and pass at least 60% passing grade then they should be given (rewarded) with a VOTING FOR TEENS CARD and it should be called "YO! i can VOTE! ;P" ....or something like that.. maybe a better name for it. THINK ABOUT IT!

-i'm a 16 year old girl and a this is my opinion.

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Patricia P.
Patricia P5 years ago

The human brain is not fully developed in most people until mid-twenties. I realize that thewre are countless responsibilities imposed on people 18 , but their brains are not fully developed.

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Kimberly S.
Kimberly S.5 years ago

I didn't have a clue what was going on in politics at 16....I really became more aware in my 30s and 40s....

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Erin Meise
Erin Meise5 years ago

when i was 16 I didn't care what was going on in politics. 16 year olds have their own worries, like school and grades and dates and clothes and figuring out who they are. Even if they did have the right to vote, there would only be a few who would do actual research on the candidates and issues they would be influencing. The rest would just be working with the hype they saw on t.v.

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Charles Temm JR
Charles Temm JR5 years ago

Rep Ellison is not by any means the brightest of even the admittedly dull folks we tend to elect to Congress but this highlights a lack of common sense (and maybe experience with teenagers to begin with?!)

Giving 18 years olds to vote had solid reasoning behind it as the article actually points out. There is NOTHING similar regarding 16 year olds. There is plenty enough anecdotal evidence to point out far too many people vote today based on petty reasoning such as color (solidest group of Obama supporters today support him because he looks like them), family voting record (my dad/mom voted has always voted x and so will I!), which candidate GIVES them the most freebies (corn farmers for ethanol subsidies, increased entitlements, higher taxes on OTHERS, unions for those who are pro government spending etc)....do we really want teens to enter into this equation with even more immature reasoning threads?

My guess is quite simply Rep Ellison has proposed nothing that even was worth getting out of committee these last few years and he wants some limelight. Obviously there is nothing constructive in this proposal.

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Sherrie B.
Sherrie Brunell5 years ago

When males turn 18 they are still required to register for a possible draft, so even though there is no longer a draft going on at this time, they are the ones who are putting their names in for the possible draft, so they still deserve to have the right to vote.

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MD L.
Maitreya L5 years ago

"Just another way for Republicans to dumb down the voting public. They will try anything."

Actually statistically speaking, young people tend to vote liberal, almost twice as many people in the 17-29 age demographic favor Democrats over Republicans. Democrats would benefit far more if the voting age were lowered.

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