From the Editor’s Desk: Should the Voting Age be Lowered to Sixteen?

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“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson

It is a good day to be a Tiger!

I turned 18 and became eligible to vote in 1997. In 2000 I became a registered voter and I cast my vote for the democrat nominee, Al Gore as the 43rd President of the United States. I can still recall standing in line outside a local middle school in southern Utah, where I waited for, perhaps, a half an hour to take my turn in a voting booth. That evening I sat in front of my television and watched CNN as the results from the ballots cast throughout the day began to pour in from around the country and at one point Al Gore secured the state of Pennsylvania and it seemed America had chosen its next president as Gore was announced the perceived winner. 

But that was not how that night ended. 

Shortly after several news sources had announced that Gore had won, other news sources began to announce that Republican candidate GW Bush had secured Florida, thereby giving him the victory and place in history as our next president. 

The confusion regarding who was going to lead our nation into the 21st century was not answered that evening. It was reported that Bush had secured Florida with only 537 votes in his favor; a small number of votes that immediately resulted in a recount and litigation regarding who was going to be the next president. Eventually, I believe it was around a week after the election, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Bush had won the election and Gore proceeded to cede the election to his opponent. Ultimately, it was decided that Bush had secured 271 of the 270 votes needed to be the victor and he became president and although not everyone was happy with, or even accepted, the results from that election, we all eventually moved on with our lives. 

I have since voted in every presidential election we have had in this country. I take pride in my civic duty as an American to make my tiny voice heard.

Recently, there has been some discussion regarding lowering the age of registered voters to 16, rather than 18. According to vote16usa.org, a website promoting lowering the voting age, there are four primary reasons the United States should consider lowering the voting age. 

The first reason given was the idea that lowering the voting age would help promote making voting a habit at a younger age. Taking into consideration that almost half of this country’s eligible voters do not utilize their right to vote, perhaps lowering the age will inspire more to get involved and begin a habit of voting. The next reason given was that it could be said that sixteen year olds are mentally and emotionally developed enough to make an informed decision when it comes to casting a ballot. The third reason given is the idea that sixteen year olds are going to become adults during the four-year term of a presidency, so therefore they should have a say in who is running the nation when they become adults. The final reason given by vote16usa.org is the claim that allowing sixteen year olds to vote would promote civic education in American schools considering students would have the responsibility of voting. Basically, the argument is that having voters vote when they are still enrolled in public education they will most likely study the importance of civic engagement in a democracy. 

Not surprisingly, many are not on board with the idea of having the voting age lowered to sixteen. 

Some argue that if we allow sixteen year olds to vote it’s just a matter of time before the argument arrives that we should start allowing sixteen year olds to join the military or legally marry. “If we can vote, why can’t we serve our country?” kind of mentality. Another argument is that teenagers are not well-informed enough to make an educated choice. For example, only 36% of American adults can name all three branches of the government and those adults are the results of the American public education system. Theoretically that would mean that an even lower number of teenagers would know the specifics of how government works considering how uninformed adults are. 

What do you think, students of Jerome high? Should the voting age become lowered? Or should the age remain where it’s at?