Opinion | Why the voting age should be lowered to 16

Author: Ashari James


Everyone is affected by our government’s decisions, but not every who could have a say in their future does. Since I was twelve years old, I’ve been fighting to lower the voting age in Washington, D.C., to sixteen. The D.C. youth not having the ability to vote is ludicrous because they are able to work, drive, pay taxes, and get tried and sentenced as adults. When it comes to sixteen-year-olds in D.C., they have double the taxation without representation. 


With conversations about giving young people more opportunities to express their political views and get involved solving the problems within their communities’, a solution would be providing young people a chance to vote locally before the “big election”. Allowing sixteen-year-olds to vote in local elections lets teenagers prove their decision-making skills with Council Members, Mayors, and the State Board of Election (SBOE). A neuroimaging study published in The New York Times shows that adults and teenagers make equally good and bad decisions when given the same information. By the age of sixteen, the skills necessary to make informed decisions are firmly in place. 


As someone who actively lobbies for the lowering of the voting age, I’ve always noticed one I reveal my age I am not taken as seriously. Many people are shocked to hear me advocating for lowing the voting age to sixteen. I began to hold back my age and said it only if they asked or slipped it in towards the end of my final point. I bring that up to say youth can have a negative connotation and are seen as “not as smart” or” not ready yet,” yet some of the greatest changes in history were the result of youth-led movements. 


Why would we hesitate to increase voter turn-out to a group that is two times more likely to vote than 18-year-olds? [1] This generation has proven that we are here, and in every space possible, our voice will be heard. It’s time for D.C. and the rest of the country to lower the voting age to understand the power of teens and give them voting rights!


References


Juslin, Peter, and Henry Montgomery, eds. Judgment and decision making: Neo-Brunswikian and process-tracing approaches. Psychology Press, 2007.


Ashari James is a fifteen years old, Afro- Puerto Rican, student leader. She is currently a rising junior at BASIS DC. Ashari is a part of March for Our lives DC (MFOLDC) as well as volunteer for Vote16DC. For two years, she co-led her school's leadership and lobbying program BDCACLU. You can find her on Instagram at @divawilldo and twitter at @asharijames and if you love the show One day at a time (that was previously on Netflix but is now on poptv) she has a page @moreonedayatattime. She also runs an edges page called @blackwomendotheiredges.

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