OPINION: Should the Voting Age Be Lowered?

Emilie Matthews, Staff Reporter

The right to vote in the United States has been hotly debated over the past 200 years. Through a series of congressional acts and new amendments, African Americans, women, Native Americans, and immigrants were slowly granted the right to vote until finally, anyone over 18 who is also a citizen of the United States got the right to vote. Although US citizens fought to make the government more democratic by granting the right to vote to a larger population, it still restricts anyone under the age of 18 from voting, which in itself, silences a portion of the people’s voice. 

According to the Census Bureau, in 2010, there were 74.2 million people in the US under the age of 18, or about 24 percent of the total population. By depriving minors of the right to vote, the Constitution is silencing the voice of nearly ¼ of the United States. Although ¾ of the population has the right to vote, only a portion of them exercise this right. According to the United States Election Project, only 138 million people actually voted in the 2016 presidential election, which is only 58.1 percent of the eligible population. 

According to Bustle, there are many surprising things teenagers can do before they turn 18 in order to exercise their civil liberties. For example, they can be treated for STD’s in some states without parental knowledge, they can register as an organ donor in 48 states, and they can get a passport without parental consent. In the state of Colorado, anyone 16 or older can register to vote at 16 and can vote in school district elections. Although people under 18 can’t vote, they still have many rights that grant them power over themselves and could possibly affect others. Teenagers are just years away from adulthood, and they already possess many important rights, and are often active participants in their community when many adults aren’t, so why shouldn’t they have the right to vote on issues that directly affect them?