• Should 16 and 17-year-olds be allowed to vote?

    Date: 01.27.08 | by Judge Tom.

    Passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971 granted 11 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 21 the right to vote. There has been some discussion in recent years of lowering the age to 16.

    Lawmakers in New York City, Baltimore, Texas, Maine, Minnesota and California have proposed such a change, although with little success. In eighteen states minors can vote in their state’s primary if they are 17 and turn 18 before the general election in November.

    Photo by Vox Efx (Flickr)

    Those in favor argue that 17-year-olds can join the military with a parent’s consent and should likewise be entitled to cast a vote.  Many young people are interested in environmental and education issues as well as politics as evidenced by this year’s appeal to the youth vote by presidential candidates.

    Opponents argue that few teens will actually vote based on statistics from past elections. In the 2004 presidential election, 18 to 24-year-olds had the lowest turnout by age [47%]. They further argue that 16 and 17-year-olds lack experience and maturity.

    Several countries have led the way to a lower voting age. In 2007 Austria changed its age to 16, joining Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua.

    What do you think about this proposal? Do you feel that you should be allowed to vote when you turn 16 or 17? If yes, will you register to vote and go to the polls on election day? Far too many Americans fail to vote–will you be one of those or instead be an example for your elders to follow? For more information about voting take a look at:  www.rockthevote.org  and  www.declareyourself.com.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • amy yazzie
      Thu, 28 Feb 2008 at 12:37

      They should be allowed to vote

      Judge Tom’s response:
      Thanks for your comment, Amy.

    • David Bradley
      Thu, 10 Apr 2008 at 11:55

      From the beginning your blog seemed pretty dull for me. But now it keeps getting better. THIS post is just AWESOME!

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