Voting Age: Should It Be Lowered to 16?

– When you turn 18, our society generally
considers you an adult. You can join the military. You’re eligible for jury duty. You can get that sweet tattoo that we all know you’ll
regret in five years. And of course, you gain the right to vote. That’s when you finally get a
say in how this country works. But over the past few years, through movements like Black Lives Matter and the March for Our Lives, we’ve seen young people
under the age of 18 put pressure on lawmakers to take action on serious issues that affect them. Like police brutality and gun violence. Combine that with the fact that at 16 you can work, pay taxes, and even be tried as an
adult for some crimes, and it’s pretty obvious
that the country’s laws have an impact on nearly one everyone well before they can cast their vote. Maybe we need to rethink the voting age. Should 16 year olds be allowed to vote? Okay. So voting may not seem like a big deal, especially since there are a ton of eligible voters out
there that don’t vote. I’m looking at you Millennials. But it’s kind of awesome that in America voting is a right. I mean, 40% of the world doesn’t even have the option to vote. Which means they don’t have
a say in their government. However, the laws governing
who can vote and who can’t have evolved over time. When the Constitution
was ratified in 1788, there was no mention of a voting age. Instead, pretty much every
state required you to be at least 21, and a land-owning
white Christian male. No, no, no. Not Christian Bale, well,
I mean that works too. By 1830, most states had abolished the property and religion requirements. So if you were white,
male and at least 21, you could vote. Then, in the years after the Civil War, things really started to change. In 1868, former slaves
were guaranteed citizenship with the passing of the 14th Amendment. Two years later, the 15th Amendment guaranteed black males the right to vote, although their voting rights were actively suppressed for decades, and even still today. Then came the women. After years of activism,
they won the right to vote in 1920 with the passage
of the 19th Amendment. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination
of any kind in voting. So by the late 60s, finally
everyone 21 and over could actually vote in the U.S. But the journey doesn’t end there, folks. The late 60s was the
peak of the Vietnam War. The U.S. government drafted thousands of 18 to 21 year old men. Protestors argued that
if you were old enough to die for your country, you should be able to vote in it too. So in 1971, Congress approved, and then the states
ratified the 26th Amendment which guarantees voting rights to any American citizen 18 or older. Okay, so why not lower the
voting age even lower to 16? Why not keep evolving? Well, going from 21 to
18 is a way easier sale than going from 18 to 16. Some critics say that 16 year olds aren’t mature enough or
have enough life experience. After all, most are high schoolers legally required to attend school and generally are
dependent on their family for food, clothing, and shelter. I mean, when I think back
to my 16-year-old self and my classmates, do I really trust them to make informed political decisions? The maturity argument isn’t just adults throwing shade at the young ‘uns. There is some science to back it up. All parts of the brain don’t
develop at the same pace. What your brain looks like at 16 will be different than how it
looks at 18 or 21 or even 25. So what does that mean for teens? Well, there are basically
two different methods that our brains use to
understand and process the world. The first is cold cognition, which is normal everyday decision making that doesn’t involve your emotions. Like picking between Uber and Lyft. Teens are just fine with cold cognition. Hot cognition, on the other
hand, involves emotion. Typically a conflict
between risk and reward. Research shows that teens
often struggle with that. Meaning they’re more
likely to be impulsive and irrational when things get emotional. So if you’re a 16 year old
voter entering the booth, which part of your brain are you using? On top of that, there’s a trend toward increasing the legal age for things. Over the past decade, states
have raised the legal age for things like driving a
car and buying cigarettes. North Carolina will no longer charge 16 and 17 year olds as adults. Allowing 16 year olds to vote
would run against this trend. Those in favor of lowering the voting age point to the fact that
if you take a look at some other countries around the world, letting 16 year olds
vote isn’t controversial. Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua
all allow voting at 16. And while in the U.S. you still need to be at least 18 to vote in federal elections, stuff like voting for
president and senators. Three cities in Maryland have granted 16 and 17 year olds the right
to vote in local elections. Many argue that 16 year
olds should have a stake in the laws that affect them. They go to school, so why not let them vote on school policy? A lot of them have jobs where they get taxed on their earnings without having any voting power to affect change in their government. That’s taxation without representation. Which, if you remember
the Boston Tea Party from history class was a big reason why we fought the Revolutionary
War and created the U.S. There are also studies showing that it’s also important to vote in your first eligible election because it sets up voting as a habit. At 18, many are moving out
of their parents’ homes. They’re going to college and taking jobs. Being highly mobile can make
it hard to register to vote at a specific address. You’re more likely to
vote for the first time if you’re at home, in a familiar place. Like a lot of kids are at 16. And there’s some real
data to back this up. In one of those Maryland cities where you can start voting at 16, about 17% of 16 and 17
year old eligible voters cast a ballot in a local election. That’s about double the 8.5%
of eligible 18 year olds. Alright folks. What do you think? Should 16 year olds be allowed to vote? Let us know in the comments below. And even if you can’t vote, there’s a lot of ways to
get involved with politics. Young people can motivate their
families and neighborhoods through education and
community organization. Voting isn’t the only way to
make your voice heard, people. And hey, if you’re a middle
or high school teacher, you can get your students talking about this topic on KQED Learn. Check it out, right over there. And if you’re a student, you can teach your teacher something by showing this video on KQED Learn. Bonus points for sure, guaranteed. And as always, like, subscribe, tell
your friends about us. Keep watching our videos. And stay above the noise. Later.

About the author


  1. I'm 13 and I want the right to vote, having followed politics quite closely for a year and having an opinion different than that of my parents, but I feel that there should be a class you have to take before you can vote under 18.

  2. I don’t think they should be able to vote. Even though I’m 14, I would absolutely love to vote, but I don’t trust my peers. Most people my age aren’t very informed and a little unstable. I wouldn’t trust to make informed decisions about the future of this country.

  3. No. Unless the education system was radically overhauled. Since that is unlikely to happen I return to my original answer of, hell to the mudda fudgin naw son.

  4. Most arguments against lowering the voting age to 16 could be used against most people under 25 voting or even people older

  5. If you’re paying taxes, you should be able to vote. Simple as that. If the government’s going to take our money, we should at least get a say in how it’s spent. This doesn’t just apply to 16 year olds who pay taxes but also residents of Washington DC

  6. Any arguments made against young people voting should be brought against old people as well (i.e. brains don't work well when older also)

  7. I think the federal voting age is fine where it is. However, I think letting younger people vote at the municipal or county level would be beneficial to their civics education, motivate them to vote later in life, and more able to climb above the noise.

  8. I think 16 is a good voting age. I still remember myself seething at being unable to vote when I was that age. And from all my world experience up to this point, age has little to do with intelligence and maturity. I've seen 16 year olds who are far more intelligent and mature than some 40 year olds I've met.

  9. I didn't know there are only this few countries with a legal voting age of 16! I'm Austrian and for me it has always felt quite natural that people are able to make an at least somewhat informed decision at that age. We also do get a good bit of political education in schools, so by the time people turn 16, they definitely have more knowledge about current politics than many 60+ year olds, who are also allowed to vote.
    And while, yes, some issues such as housing and taxes don't really affect them at this point, neither do all issues affect older people (see child support with elderly people or those who never even have children), so that's not a good argument either.

  10. I don't have a super strong position on this. I think that for school board and anything like that, it definitely makes sense to give students more of a say. And I think various arguments in favor of applying that more generally have merit that's worth considering. I also think the taxation factor is interesting… I did my first 1040 (or 1040A, maybe) when I was 14… and there was definitely an extent to which I was paying attention to politics, and had formed some opinions that I might have liked to have had the opportunity to express in the form of a vote. And I only got more educated and invested and whatnot since then…

    And plenty of people don't make those investments of time and mental energy. And… I don't think it's actually reasonable to exclude them, much as I sometimes might want to, because I don't think there's a good way to draw the line that's not just… horrible. One way or another, any line drawn is (as far as I can imagine at the moment) arbitrary in its details, even if it can be based on some sound reasoning. Is 18 a good place to draw an arbitrary line? Meh, maybe, maybe not. Probably not, in ways. Age probably isn't even the best metric, in ways. But what is? Standardized testing tends to have significant biases, etc., etc.

    Hmm. I should go read the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers (among many other historical sources… perhaps something from ancient Greece?), and see what others have come up with on this point… Not to mention modern neuroscience??? It's complicated!

  11. If any kind of emotional stability or cognition level argument is made against a 16 year-old citizen, the logic could apply to any citizen, no? If we postulate we should not let a certain category of citizens vote because of cognitive challenges, there is very little conceptual difference in postulating we should test all citizen's cognitive abilities before letting them vote, as with a permit for example.

  12. I think local elections may work, but I would take a look at the impact of historical elections in the example Nations you listed as allowing sixteen year olds the vote

  13. At the end, you used double the votes for ages 16 & 17 as an example against age 18, yet to be fair it is double between two years, so on average they are the same for each age group.

  14. Short answer, No.
    Long answer, make the voting age 21 and change every other legalities around that age to suit it all properly, no taxes, licenses, ownership etc before 21. If you're gonna shove adult responsibilities on them, they might as well be actual adults and that way they can be treated as adults too

  15. Yeah, why stop there. Let's let the 7 year olds vote because there are things/topics that effect them too; especially when it comes to schools and school curriculum.

  16. The millenials that are voting age now know nothing about the political system or history itself. This isn't the 60s where students were informed and organized. Lowering it to 16 would be a waste when most couldn't even tell you who the VP is.

  17. The voting age should be 25! Until you put time in the world you should not have a voice on how the rest of is live. 16 would be stupid, kids do not understand how things work and too much brainwashing from the educational system, they have removed essential information.

  18. The idea of lowering the voting age, through my personal research of late, I believe is part of long term hidden strategic plan. Organized by the global elite driven through the Democratic party (as of current) for whom has control over the government unions of the teachers. To brainwash Democratic ways into children before they get a chance to think for themselves and be exploited into voting Democrat. And when the Democrats have full rule under the New World Order, they will segregate the world into haves (elites) and have not (slaves). There will be no more freedom of human rights, and no more freedom to have a life of your choice. Globalism under one rule is not what you may think it could be. Trust me the elites have solitary plans of their own to make it only what they want it to be with zero concern for anyone and at all expense to human life. All wars since the revolutionary war have been financed and orchestrated by the hiddened agenda of global elites. They purposely set them in motion to prosper for themselves at the cost of human lives. JFK was assassinated by the FBI because he publically tried to expose the plans of the NWO. The FBI for whom was run by George H Bush for whom was put in place as president of the United States. For whom personally spoke of the New World Order publically. Yes Republicans are sometimes no better. Everyone do your own homework and wake up before it's to late. For the suppression of all human freedom is currently in progress. PS. Republicans & Demoncrats are corrupted one in the same to fleece the people for greedy big bank and corporate gains. But it seems every few decades a patriotic president comes along to try and throw a monkey wrench into their greedy plans, ie. JFK, Reagan and now Trump. God bless all who keep an open mind!

  19. As long as their knowledge of American history, their Understanding on how the government works, and their maturity development remains as shallow as it currently is, they should continue to wait until they are 18. The age stablished as legal is fair enough when considering the things the country demands from all 18 years old.
    In the mean time , homes and schools should do a better job teaching all 16 years old what this country is all about, its highs and lows , what freedom of speech means, how to make it better……. you know the things they are not doing now

  20. Kudos to comment below by junowatt, 25 for all citizens , 18 for those who put their lives on the line for the country

  21. Thats BS…where do they suppress black votes from voting!…thats a lie!…the only reason folks would want a 16 yr old to vote is because they know their already indoctrinating these kids in schools with leftist views!…THATS A FACT!…the voting age should be raised back to 21…millenials are being corrupted with all socialist and marxist propagandas!…look at AOC!…complete moonbat with communistic views ..forget socialist

  22. Minors (those under the age of 18, in most states) lack the capacity to make acontract. So a minor who signs a contract can either honor the deal or void thecontract.

  23. This should not be a problem for anyone with basic common sense. Sixteen year olds are not mature enough mentally to vote. At sixteen issues that impact everyone should not be partially put into the hands those that are trying to go with the latest trend. Teenagers are rebellious and don't understand the way the economy works, intricate details about population and health care, that there is no such thing as free, and all the necessities for a successful country. I wouldn't trust most teenagers to know what the state sales tax is let alone be sound of mind enough to elect a leader. Young minds can be manipulated a lot easier due to their lack of thought about future consequences. They are more interested in what's popular or the next IPhone or their first car. I use to be 16 and voting was not something that would have been good. A lot of kids just go with what everyone else is doing so if some classmates of theirs or friends said that they were going to vote for someone then it would tend to catch on, the same goes for parental influence. They can't be trusted to evaluate and and weigh the pros and cons. BTW those countries that were listed where the voting age is 16, not places I'd want to live.

  24. notice democrats will do anything for power absolutely anything. i guess yall would be ok for reeducation camps as well. they say 21 to own a gun 18 to serve in the military . but i can bet you that if this were to happen say as the same time weed were to become legall the age restriction would be 16 . the pedos would love this to happen as well . there are savvy teens but mostly they are kids. argentina by the way yeah go live there if you think that's a great example

  25. **"Wild In The Streets"** a 1968 movie starring Shelley Winters, Christopher Jones, & Diane Varsi – A story about a twenty something young man who gains significant political influence as the leader of a counterculture rock band with his rallying cry of voting rights for teenagers. Convinced that taking voting rights down to 18 was not far enough and what happens when they take it all the way down to 14 years old. His band rises to power on the rallying cry "14 or Fight!" On his way to the Oval Office with his youth-controlled police state agenda.

  26. The voting age should be lowered to 8 if they vote Republican. The dead should also be allowed to vote through clairvoyants. Animals should be allowed to vote through animal sevants.

  27. That is a Democrat plan. Legalized marijuana get kids on it put on a rock concert and they will vote for you. Same way with the illegals. Let all the illegals in you can get because Democrats know they will vote for them.

  28. Great! And let's bring back the military draft and lower that age to 16 as well. They'd learn a lot about the government that way! You want to PLAY, you have to PAY! Yeehaw!

  29. At sixteen vote us into to power so we can determine that you have to be 18 to have sex and 21 to drink alcohol

  30. NO. Even 21 is a bit too young. You should have had to pay Federal Income taxes from a full -time job for at least 2-4 years before participating in federal elections because you don;t fully appreciate what the federal government does until you've experienced it legally stealing from you for a few years.

  31. While I'm against minors voting I do support tax exemption for working teenagers. Let them enjoy the extra money while they can.

  32. So studies show that many (if not most) 16 year olds don't have fully developed brains and are often incapable of making rational decisions. But they can be counted on to vote Democrat. And none of the Leftards out there see the irony in this. LMAO

  33. This is a ploy by the left wing whackos to add to their voting base. 16 year olds HAVE ZERO practical life experience and therefore no possibility of separating the idealism of the left wings radical aimless and pathetic ideas that are foisted on them through propaganda in school and on TV with the REAL WORLD !! .. they have ILLEGALY registered NON-CITIZENS to vote and now this low down dirty trick !! The dictatorcrats (formerly democrats) are out tot DESTORY the USA !!

  34. Blacks and other minorities disproportionately account for more crimes. Blacks are more likely to be killed by other blacks. White people are killed more often by police.

    These are things never talked about in schools. So 16 yr olds who are never told these facts but manipulated by their liberal teachers suddenly know how to better run the country? You want the lying Hogg to push his gun narrative? He doesnt know how to control his emotions.

  35. It’s stupid how in school history books it says all citizens can vote but then you need to be 18. It’s like anyone under 18 is just too beneath notice to them to even count as citizen. As a 16 year old myself, I feel like I’m being treated as a useless piece of garbage.

    And all you morons saying that 16 year olds don’t have enough life experience to vote, I’ve probably been through more than you.

  36. No. They are between childhood and adulthood, they are still maturing and finding their place in the world. They are still learning and aren’t even considered old enough to do most things, and are barely considered old enough to drive or work. But they are somehow old enough to make important decisions effecting their state or country when they aren’t even trusted to get into legal contracts?

  37. we like fortnite we like fowe like fortnite we like fortnite we like fortnite rtnite vwe like fortnite we like fortnite we like fortnite we like fortnite

  38. Yes we need to lower the voting age to 16 but first, Lower the age of consent to 16, and allow 16 year olds to buy and carry firearms. Hey, they are mature and Pelosi thinks they are capable of anything an adult can do so why not? Also why not try 16 year olds as adults when they commit crimes because they are just as mature and knowledgeable as any adult.

  39. Yes, all those easily manipulated 16 year olds, thoroughly indoctrinated with leftist ideals in school should definitely be allowed to vote.

  40. Knowing how dumb I was 16 I know I shouldn’t have been allowed to vote at that time. I do think 18 is the straightforward answer due to the military connection. If you’re old enough to serve your country then you’re old enough to vote

  41. as a 16 year i don't think so i mean if i could vote sure but i think it's bad if i could i would vote republican

  42. For me when I was 15 I felt I should be able to vote. My politics changed, but people who say the brain isn’t fully developed when younger are misleading. It isn’t done growing is different than it will result in poor political decisions. On the other hand I know of many adults who have the problem of their brain still isn’t growing.

  43. No, age shouldn't be the deciding factor, you should need 100iq or more and only can vote if you are taxed.

  44. Raise the voting age to 25 and raise the age of conscription back to 21 even though I believe there is no need for a draft.

    Also, bring back civil defense training in schools.

  45. This is all about the leftist destroying our country to fill their pockets up! They don't care about anything or anyone but themselves!! 16 year olds have no business voting! Leave our kids alone! You have no right to MY KID!!

  46. If 16 yo have intellectual maturity to make decisions about governance, then they have they have it to make decisions about themselves as a whole. Plus, if they are old enough to vote, then they are old enough to join or be drafted into the military to fight for that RIGHT just as 18 year olds can.

  47. Well the first major flaw in this video is this statement at the beginning: “when you turn 18, society generally considers you an adult”……lmao. Is that why the smoking age is being raised to 21? As well as gun ownership? And the drinking age is 21 as well. Not to mention the constant science coming out about the brain not maturing until around age 25.

  48. You left wing dipshits realize this will backfire horribly. Last I checked Republicans weren't allowing men to compete in women's sports or share locker rooms with them, Republicans aren't the ones censoring the internet, Republicans aren't the ones sending anti-gun activists to schools after a school shooting, Republicans aren't the ones filling high schools with illegals. David Hogg & other one hit wonder don't represent teens. If you're actually are stupid enough to do this, congratulations for helping the Republican party again.

  49. they should allow you while your in High school, there is no difference between that agero and. 18. And saying these people don't have enough life experience should just shut up, as the Current US president as of this message has the mentality of a 5 Year old. The old people that would be against this would be people that have to manipulate system to win.
    Kinda like the current Republican party which only apply to Bigots and the wealthy.

  50. I don't think its a bad idea, kike they have good reasons I'm fine with voting on school policy and local elections I'm not sure for presidental elections.

  51. Noone under 30 should be able to vote or have anything to do with politics whatsoever. You simply need the lifeexperience and hopefully the visdom it brings to be a popperly informed voter.

  52. 16 would be great cause the latest gens should have a say in their future not baby boomers not gen x and not gen y we gen z should have a say about are future this affects us more then them

  53. i bet if you ask any 16 year old to name at least 5 senators they couldnt. they know so little about politics and the personalities and the background of the people running their country, these aren't things you can learn in school or be able to point out in a few months. the frontal cortext isnt even that developed at this point, and some studies show that the brain doesnt fully develop until your late 20s, and im pretty sure even some 20 year olds arent too bright as well.

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