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  • Writer's pictureLogan Ginavan

Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders: My Thoughts on Lowering the Voting Age

The right to vote is fundamental to democracy, serving as a cornerstone of civic engagement and political participation. Yet, despite the importance of this right, a significant portion of our population remains excluded from the electoral process: young people under the age of 18. In recent years, there has been growing momentum and support for lowering the voting age, granting 16- and 17-year-olds the opportunity to cast their ballots in local, state, and federal elections. Advocates argue that expanding the franchise to include younger citizens not only enhances the representativeness of our democracy but also cultivates a more politically engaged and informed electorate. I am greatly in favor of legislation to lower the voting age to 16.

At the heart of the movement to lower the voting age lies a recognition of the importance of engaging young people in the political process from an early age. Research has shown that individuals who develop the habit of voting at a young age are more likely to continue participating in elections throughout their lives. By extending the right to vote to 16- and 17-year-olds, we can instill a sense of civic duty and responsibility in our youth, fostering a culture of active citizenship that endures beyond adolescence.

Moreover, lowering the voting age has the potential to address the longstanding issue of underrepresentation among young voters. Historically, voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds has lagged behind that of older age groups, leading to a lack of political influence and representation for young people. By allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, we can begin to bridge this gap and ensure that the voices of young Americans are heard in the democratic process. In 2016 only about 43% of citizens 18-29 voted, an amount completely dwarfed by older age groups, which often have turnout rates in the 70s.

Critics of lowering the voting age often cite concerns about the readiness of young people to make informed decisions at the ballot box, suggesting the reason for higher turnout with age is the experience needed to make these decisions. However, research suggests that 16- and 17-year-olds are more politically aware and engaged than they are given credit for. Many young people are actively involved in issues that affect their communities and have a keen interest in shaping and protecting the future of their country.

Also, lowering the voting age presents an opportunity to enhance civics education in schools and promote civic literacy among young people. By integrating civics curriculum into high school coursework and providing students with hands-on learning experiences, we can equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate meaningfully in the electoral process. By engaging young people in discussions about democracy, government, and current events, we can empower them to become informed and responsible voters.

Another compelling argument in favor of lowering the voting age is the issue of representation and equity in our democracy. Allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote ensures that younger citizens have a say in decisions that directly impact their lives and futures. Many issues, such as education, environmental protection, and gun violence prevention, disproportionately affect young people, yet they often lack a voice in the policymaking process. Lowering the voting age gives young Americans a seat at the table and ensures that their concerns are taken into account by elected officials.

Furthermore, extending the right to vote to 16- and 17-year-olds promotes intergenerational equity by acknowledging that decisions made by policymakers today will have far-reaching consequences for future generations. Young people have a vested interest in the policies and decisions made by their government, and they deserve to have a say in shaping the world they will inherit. By lowering the voting age, we can promote greater equity and inclusivity in our democratic system.

The push to lower the voting age is driven in large part by the activism and advocacy of young people themselves. In recent years, we have seen a surge of youth-led movements and campaigns advocating for social and political change on issues ranging from climate change to gun violence prevention. Young activists have proven themselves to be powerful agents of change, mobilizing their peers, organizing protests and rallies, and demanding action from elected officials.

Lowering the voting age would amplify the voices of these young activists and provide them with a more direct means of influencing policy outcomes. Instead of relying solely on protests and demonstrations to effect change, young people would have the opportunity to channel their energy and passion into the electoral process, where their votes can shape the direction of our country. By empowering young people to participate in democracy at an earlier age, we can harness their collective power to drive progress and create a more just and equitable society.

It is also instructive to consider the experiences of other countries that have already lowered the voting age. Several countries, including Austria, Brazil, and Scotland, have successfully extended voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds, with positive results. In these countries, young voters have demonstrated high levels of engagement and participation, challenging the notion that young people are apathetic or disinterested in politics.

Moreover, research has shown that lowering the voting age can have a positive impact on voter turnout and political engagement across all age groups. When young people are included in the electoral process, they often serve as catalysts for increased participation among older age groups, leading to a more robust and representative democracy. By learning from the experiences of other countries, we can glean valuable insights into the potential benefits of lowering the voting age and tailor our approach accordingly.

All this is to say, lowering the voting age is a commonsense reform that has the potential to strengthen our democracy and empower the next generation of leaders. I would absolutely support or bring forth a bill lowering the voting age in Kansas to 16. It's time we acknowledge that policy decisions made today will affect younger citizens longer than any of us and they deserve a say in these decisions. By engaging young people in the political process from an early age, promoting civics education, ensuring equitable representation, amplifying youth advocacy, and learning from international perspectives, we can create a more inclusive and responsive democracy that reflects the diversity of our society.

As we look to the future, let us seize this opportunity to expand access to the franchise and foster a culture of civic engagement and participation among young Americans. By lowering the voting age, we can build a stronger, more vibrant democracy that reflects the values of equality, justice, and opportunity for all. Thank you for taking the time to consider these important issues. If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to explore my other blog posts to learn more about my policies.

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