PRO: Should 16-year-olds be given the right to vote in America?

Bernard Chen, Asst. News Editor

We say that our universal, basic human rights are not barred by any category in which we belong; namely ethnicity, gender, or sexuality. Yet we, as students, are unable to vote just because we are minors? In most countries, the minimum voting age is 18, if not higher. However, there is no reason why the age requirement should be so high; it should be lowered to 16.
Minors are affected by laws every day and pay taxes just as adults do. Likewise, they have rights that need to be protected just as adults do. It only makes sense that minors deserve the right to have a say in their own government. This concept goes back to the American Revolution, “no taxation without representation.” Minors are not able to be represented in legislation, yet they are affected by many of the same government policies which apply to non-minors.

In fact, voting at such a young age would benefit, rather than disrupt, the country’s voting system. Having the youth vote would bring a fresh new voice, new thoughts and a more established voting crowd.

In order to vote with a clear and conscious decision, one must first become aware of the political situation to develop one’s own ideas. To do this, minors will learn to step up to the challenge and thus take the responsibility that comes with it. With the serious task of voting, minors must fulfill the obligation of being informed in politics, just as adults should be, and cast ballots with their own opinion in mind. In time, these mere thoughts can grow into something greater and allow for the minors to formulate their stand on issues early on. Enfranchising minors paves the way for a more educated society.

Children are the future of the human kind and what better way to ensure its success than educating and preparing the youth? Eighteen-year-old Saira Blair won a seat on the West Virginia House of Delegates this past month in the midterm elections.

“When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation’s voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state’s most challenging issues,” Blair wrote in a Facebook post.

This bold take on politics is an opportunity that all minors should be given. Seeing that Blair, who has only recently received voting rights, is able to become an elected official, who is to say that minors don’t have the necessary experience to be knowledgeable about politics?

To become elected, Blair must have been educated and well-versed in legislation before election. Minors do have the ability to become productive citizens of the country and should be able to vote with informed decisions.