Today, all through America, people will be lining up to vote. Lining up to choose who they think will be the better president, who they want to represent them in congress, and more questions that will determine their future. With voter turnout estimated at its largest in quite some time, everyone wants to get their say in. It’s been a long while since an election was quite this big.
But not all Americans can vote. There is a certain constituency, that, interestingly enough is not legally allowed to vote. They follow the campaign, they watch the debates and listen to the interviews, they do research, they form opinions on who they would like to support. But they’re not allowed to vote. There simply are those who can’t vote. And those people are the youth of America.
Those under eighteen are not allowed to vote because, according to many officials, they lack the proper judgement and intelligence to make a good decision. Now, as many parents, teachers, and almost anyone who has ever met someone below eighteen will tell you, this is not true in many cases. Especially in this election, if you talk to teens who aren’t yet eighteen about the election, almost all of them will say that they wish they could vote. They’ve been watching, they’ve been listening to the issues, but they can’t do anything about it.
The concerns of a sixteen year old are different then those of an eighteen year old, but as those aged sixteen can’t vote, their concerns will never be represented. Politicians represent those who can vote for them, so they will never represent the youth of this country. Whenever they talk about children, they talk about them in a way appealing to parents, not appealing to the children themselves. They only represent those whom the current law believes are able to make an informed decision.
For starters, even those with serious mental limitations are allowed to vote. Even those developmentally delayed to the point they are like children are allowed to vote. Should we then base voting age on IQ? Even those who don’t know more about the candidates than their names are allowed to vote- I just watched, on CNN, someone flipping a coin to determine her vote. Should we then base voting age on time spent researching for the election? No. Everyone should get a say. Everyone needs to be able to be represented.
And youth are not at the bottom of the knowledge ladder either! It is foolish to think that youth will vote for the candidate who displays the most shiny toys, any more than adults would. The fact of the matter is, there are no ‘wrong’ votes. Everybody has their opinion and you cannot vote incorrectly. Youth have to live in this country, and they have no effect on it at all.
And speaking of this country, most of us will know from whatever brief history study we once did, that this country began with a Revolutionary War. What was the main cause of this? What did we want to abolish? Taxation without representation. And unfortunately, that’s what’s happening now. Many youth pay taxes- sales taxes, income taxes if they have jobs, any tax- often in exorbitant amounts. Why do youth have to pay taxes if they aren’t represented in our nation’s government? It’s an unfair system, and it discriminates against youth just as much as it would be discrimination to say that women couldn’t vote, or the poor couldn’t vote, or the elderly couldn’t vote.
Youth live in this country, and they do a lot for it. Perhaps, with everyone’s help, they’ll one day have a voice.
More information about lowering the voting age can me found on the National Youth Rights Association web site.
Read many thought-provoking (and non-partisan) posts about voting on the Blog the Vote event, hosted on Chasing Ray.
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