In the United States, the twenty-sixth amendment was ratified in 1971 and the voting age was officially lowered from 21 to 18. Support for lowering the voting age began to gain ground after World War II, which saw thousands of Americans under 21 years of age fight in the war, but at the same time were not old enough to vote. Since the passage of the twenty-sixth amendment, there have been efforts made to further lower the voting age. If it is established that there must be an age limit, 18 is probably the appropriate minimum voting age.
Determining who is responsible enough to vote must take into account the average individual in that age group. The fact of the matter is most people aren’t well-versed in politics or the issues be discussed during a campaign. Many people do not pay attention to politics at all.
There are 8 years olds who know more about politics than many adults, but generally certain age groups are far less likely to be knowledgeable about politics than others.
Some have suggested that we have some type of IQ test or a civics examination in order to qualify to vote. The problem with this is that it goes against everything democracy stands for. Limiting the ability to vote in any way undermines the entire point of a democracy and having the ability to have your voice heard, regardless of arbitrary and non-adrbitary qualifications. Therefore, we must allow everyone to vote with only few common sense conditions like being a citizen or some form of permanent resident of the country and being of a certain age.
One thing we can establish is that there must be a voting age minimum. While there aremany precocious individuals, it is only pragmatic to not allow the average 8 year old to vote. A decent starting point here is 15-16, which is around the time you begin high school. By the time you reach high school, there is a good chance you are intelligent enough to vote for elected officials, so why not lower the age to 15 or 16? At high school age, you are most likely to still be living in your parents’ home and you have yet to live independently. For this reason, high schoolers are essentially still children. 18 is generally when you graduate high school and this is the time when many individuals go off to college and live on their own for the first time. Others may skip college and join the workforce after high school. 18 is the age many people become adults in terms of living independently for the first time. For those that go to college or find work in another city or state, this is the first time that many individuals get to leave their hometowns and expose themselves to people with different religious, income, and racial backgrounds.
Lowering the voting age is unlikely to increase turnout. I would imagine in the first couple of years in which the voting age is lowered, there would be a big turnout among that age group for the novelty of it, but those numbers would wane in the years afterwards. I certainly don’t speak for every high school teenager, but politics was rarely on my mind during high school. Not that it’s much different as adults, but high schoolers in particular would just vote based on whotheir friends are voting for and I would bet there will be a lot more questionable write-in votes. Kanye West would be a serious contender if the voting age were lowered to 15 or 16. You could make a case to lower the voting age, but you would be severely increasing the chances of Kanye West or the most popular Vine star becoming the next president. The bigger issue resides in the fact that most people simply do not pay attention to politics. Those that do often live in conservative or liberal bubbles and lowering or raising the voting age isn’t going to change that. That said, were not going to let 8 year olds vote, so there must be a minimum voting age. Graduating high school and leaving home for the first time occurs around 18 and this is probably the ideal voting age.