Donovan C. Wisconsin

Youth Voting In the US

Today in the US, only citizens ages 18 and older and some 17 year olds in certain states can vote in the presidential election. This is unfair and unjust to 16 and 17 year old teenagers who cannot vote and have no say and no representation in the government that represents them. Teenagers these ages have many responsibilities and deserve the inalienable right to vote.

By Donovan C., Wauwatosa, WI

Dear future President,

I am 16 years of age, and I watch presidential debates, watch results of polls and of the primaries, and form my own political views, yet I am unable to vote. I am one of the many 16 and 17 year olds in this country who have an interest in politics but aren’t able to participate in it. The voting age in the US is 18, with very few exceptions, and is unfair to teens ages 16 and 17.

Teenagers my age have many responsibilities, such as having jobs and owning and driving cars, but don’t have the right to vote in elections. I personally have a job and although I do not drive, it’s my responsibility to find a ride for everything I do. Why should teens this age be trusted with these responsibilities, but not the responsibility of giving an educated vote? I personally felt strongly towards a particular nominee during the primaries, and followed this nominee’s campaign closely and attended a rally for this candidate, but despite my strong political views I was unable to support this candidate when it mattered most, in the actual voting process.

It eludes me why 16 and 17 year olds are not able to vote, these are the same teenagers that have jobs, drive cars, buy gas, and form their own beliefs and views. WIth the elections affecting us just as much as any other adult, why are our views not counted? Do our beliefs matter less somehow? We deserve the right to be represented in government as much as any other individual. Voting trends are showing that millennials have one of the highest voter turnouts among generations. In the 2008 election, 53.4% of people ages 18-24 registered to vote. The argument may be that many 16 and 17 year olds may not involve themselves in politics or have formed their own political view yet, but the same can be said for any age group of adults, as the voter turnout in the US is only around 50% in total, and voting is completely optional anyway.

This issue has been caused by the increased amount of teenagers wanted to be involved in politics, and the opposition towards it. Many people feel that 16 year olds cannot make a mature decision in the polls, and oppose lowering the voting age to 16. Many countries have already done this successfully in some form, including Austria, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Another cause for opposition to this issue is the fact that young people tend to vote more often for more left-minded politicians, and some people might oppose the lowering of the voting age for this reason to not allow young people to be represented in government and give their left-wing opponents an edge, a completely undemocratic reason for opposing this.

So, Mr/Mrs President, will you support true democracy? Will you give all age groups and lines of thinking to have the right to represent themselves in government in the country they live in and pay taxes to? Or will you continue to let people’s beliefs and opinions go unnoticed and uncounted? The power is in your hands, President, please make the right choice.

Wauwatosa West High School

Wauwatosa West American Public Policy

All juniors are enrolled in a required civics and public policy course called American Public Policy. The capstone project is the Issue Investigation - students identify an issue that can be solved by the creation, modification, elimination of a public policy. Student letters are their first research step in the Issue Investigation process.

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