Voting age should be raised


Graphic by Evelyn Shue

The voting age should be increased to 21 as many younger people lack the maturity to make informed decisions.

Everyone will vote at some point in their lives, whether it be picking the family movie, choosing what to DoorDash, or deciding who the face of the nation will be. Voting has and will continue to be an essential component of America’s democratic ideals. However, certain matters are age-restricted, such as political elections. Although the eligible voting age is currently 18, legislation has been proposed in Congress (and many countries) to lower it to 16 in recent years. While some argue that 16 year olds deserve a voice in elections because they are affected by the same global issues as 18 year olds, the reality is that both 16 and 18 year olds lack the experience, knowledge, and maturity necessary to cast an educated vote. Instead of lowering the voting age to 16, it should be raised to 21. 


Most 18 year olds have barely graduated high school, with about 5% nationally having dropped out (pre Covid), which is an environment full of peer pressure and bullying. Many such students turn to social media for support, which subjects them to further negative influence, as students are unable to discern the difference between rampant disinformation and objective, professional journalism.  This not only distorts the lens through which students see the world, but it also affects how students act on their cloudy perceptions. When asked if high school should be used as a period to develop students’ political opinions without requiring them to take responsibility by voting, Mr. Jonathan Taylor, who teaches AP Government and Law, stated, “[y]oung people will be influenced to a certain degree. By the academic environment [they are] a part of, you know, how [their] classmates fall on the political spectrum and just the overall socioeconomic environment.” If students as young as 16 can vote, how can it be ensured that they voted objectively and were not influenced by peer pressure or an Instagram post?


Additionally, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, voter turnout is the lowest among the 18-21 age group. “I think that 18 year olds and 16 year olds are very much alike in demeanor and that they will not use that voting right for the greater good and they’ll just blow it off,” said sophomore Logan Tannenbaum. Giving the right to vote to 16 year olds will not proportionally increase the voter turnout population, and instead, will increase the likelihood of more people “blow[ing] it off” because they do not fully appreciate the importance of voting. 

Many recognize that there are some 16 year olds who may be capable of making informed decisions, but the dismal reality is that most are not. “I’ve had a number of students here, you know, in my 20 plus years at RM that were highly engaged,” Mr. Taylor asserted. Unfortunately, such students are in the minority. “I don’t think it’s a question of if they can [vote]. I think it’s more of a question of how many will…Because I feel like right now there’s not enough, like, educating kids about politics,” junior Lianna Meklir remarked. Knowledge and experience are crucial components of becoming a strong voter. Simply put, if young voters lack the motivation to make educated decisions, why should they be entrusted with the right to vote?


Increasing the voting age from 18 to 21 will allow more time for people to mature from naive high schoolers to young adults with more real world experience and knowledge. Not only will this result in more educated and experienced votes, but it will also allow young adults to thoroughly consider how their views have evolved. “I think that sometimes we can make decisions that we will disagree with in the future and especially at a young age…I know many teenagers, many teenagers make mistakes. And so I think that it’s important for us to learn about politics but not get involved until we are super set [in] what we believe in,” Tannenbaum corroborated. 


Trust and faith in the nation’s elected officials is something that America has been declining for decades, which is partially the result of rash, uneducated votes cast by those who lack the maturity to vote. Raising the voting age to 21 rather than lowering it to 16 will improve the quality of votes, and therefore the quality of our elected officials, who can better decide the fate of our country.