Commentary: The voting age should be lowered to 16

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Ashley Lucia

The ballot box is currently off-limits to those under 18, some believe that should be changed.

They pay taxes, work jobs and can be sentenced to jail by a judge. 

Millions of Americans are denied the basic, constitutional right that their older peers hold: voting. 

In 1971, a campaign to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, a direct response to the blatant hypocrisy of being old enough to fight in the Vietnam War but not to vote, was successful. The voting age was lowered via the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. 

We need to do so once more. 

16 year-olds hold many of the same responsibilities and rights as adults, including working, driving, applying for a passport and more. 

Is it not absurd that 16 year-olds can own rifles and shotguns in 33 states (including California), and can’t vote in any of them? 

What of those charged for crimes? Teenagers can be tried, convicted and sentenced as legal adults, and can even receive sentences as harsh as life without the possibility for parole. 

If this country can criminally charge teenagers as adults but avoid allowing them at the polls, how can that hypocrisy be tolerated, even defended?

If this country can criminally charge teenagers as adults but avoid allowing them at the polls, how can that hypocrisy be tolerated, even defended?”

— Aiden Sherman

How many other issues of today will have to be fixed by Generation Z?

In both parties, politicians have been adding trillions of dollars to the national debt. By the end of the present decade, the debt will be roughly equal to the entire Gross Domestic Product. 

It’ll be Generation Z who will pay off the astronomical debt caused by those currently in power, the older generations won’t have to face the consequences of their actions.

The effects of climate change are already being felt today. 

In the future when devastating storms, wildfires, and heat domes become standard, large swaths of the Earth will be uninhabitable.

Who will be the ones forced to saddle the consequences and fix it? Generation Z.

Today’s teenage youth.

Many argue that teenagers are too immature, apathetic, or simply too stupid to handle the right to vote. This argument was also used against the youth who fought to lower the voting age to 18, against African Americans, and used against women as justification for their suppression. 

Voting is not a privilege, it is a right. It’s stated emphatically to be so by the Constitution, five times. 

Gen Z is shaping up to be one of the most active, committed, and passionate generations in decades. Gen Z includes icons like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Cameron Kasky, all of whom have endured unbelievable hardship, discrimination, and attempts at being silenced at the hands of older, ‘wiser’ politicians and adults.

Are these activists indicative of an immature, apathetic, and stupid generation? 

Or are they the first ripples of a fresh wave of activism and justice soon to wash over the world?

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