Voting: It’s about the issues, not the age

Ashley Salinas

The phrase “age is just a number” has been thrown around for generations. But if age is just a number, why is it such a defining number for today’s youth?

We can drive when we turn 16, drink and buy alcohol at 21, and enlist in the military, buy cigarettes, and vote at 18. The age restrictions on driving, military enrollment, cigarettes and alcohol all seem to have proper justification, but not the age behind voting.

This November’s election is fast approaching and for some, it holds a special significance, as they will get to cast their ballots for the first time.

At 16, you are old enough to hold your life and the lives of others in your hands behind the wheel of a 2,000 lb. vehicle, but you are not allowed to place a single vote in the election.

More than simply turning 18 should decide whether one has the wisdom to vote on matters that effect us all. Some of us reach the mental capacity to understand the politics behind voting before we reach legal adulthood.

Voting is a undeniable right, but the ability to vote shouldn’t just be handed over for the first time along with one’s other birthday presents. After all, what does an 18 year old know that a 17 year and 11 month old doesn’t know?

People under 18 should be allowed to vote as long as they demonstrate an understanding of the political issues they will be voting for. When they can explain both sides of a proposition or the candidates’ viewpoints on major issues, they have displayed enough understanding of the election to be able to form an on the matters and proven that they are mature enough to handle the responsibility.

Just because someone turns 16, doesn’t mean they automatically are given their drivers license, so why should voting be any different? Drivers have to go through testing to make sure they understand exactly what they are doing and why.

Similar laws should be put in place for voters. In this system, the voting age could be lowered as long as people under the age of 18 can pass a comprehension test.

The government shouldn’t be able to set an exact age in which we are able to handle the responsibility of voting. When we reach an age when we can understand, process and explain politics, we should also earn the right to cast our votes in November.