18: Where The Voting Age is and Should Be

Marissa Levinson, Opinions Editor

   18 is a milestone age. You’re officially an adult with newfound obligations and aspirations, and your time in high school has now become a part of your past. The voting age being 18 just makes sense: you gain the responsibilities of an adult with the voice of an adult. However, lowering the voting age to 16, for example, grants power to a high school student whose main priorities should be school, friends, and making memories.

   Although teenagers begin to get a taste of adulthood when they apply for their first jobs at 14 or take a trip to the DMV for their driver’s licenses at 16, it is important to grant these privileges in doses. Every big step in life requires learning and experience, and it isn’t wise to pile up the new freedoms that an overburdened student is forced or pressured to take on. It’s overwhelming. Scientifically, it is proven that “the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, is still undergoing major reconstruction and development during the teenage years,” as found on Britannica; thus a few more years can pass until another heavy weight is placed on the shoulders of young adults’ evolving-selves. 

   Adolescents’ milestones in previous years have been leading up to adulthood. The transition period between graduating from high school and packing up for college is the perfect time to gain the right to vote, as teens mark the new beginnings in their lives. They gain independence living on their own, playing by their own rules, and no longer have someone holding their hands through every decision they make. With a voting ballot in front of them, they hold the power to impact every value, every conflict, and every moral right and wrong that is important to them. A 16 year old’s vote would be heavily influenced by opinionated family members, friends, and social media rather than be founded by their own personal beliefs and experiences. Their votes would be going to causes they aren’t fully educated on and wouldn’t be true to them, which is the entire purpose of voting.

   Acquiring knowledge about issues in modern society and our country’s divisiveness– from learning about Thanksgiving dressed as Pilgrims in kindergarten to diving deeper into the foundations of America’s government in senior year– adolescents have been preparing to proudly wear their “I voted” sticker for 18 years, finally developing a firm, educated viewpoint for themselves. Keeping America’s voting age at 18 is the perfect balance between providing a young adult with new freedoms and preserving the quality of the vote itself.