Should a minor be allowed to vote?

Ray Kopf, Staff Writer

The other day I randomly received a voter registration ballot in the mail. 

I thought I had previously submitted my ballot when I turned 18 so I was confused as to why I received one, then I read a little further down and something donned on me. The age to vote in public elections in the United States is 18 years of age and minors are eligible to preregister to vote at age 16. 

As I thought about it further I realized that at the age of 16 you are eligible to apply for your drivers license in the state of California. At first I thought nothing of it, but as time went on I felt something wasn’t right about the fact that you aren’t eligible to vote until you’re 18. If I am legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle at the age of 16, then why wouldn’t I also be able to vote for who I think should be the next president?

Think about the ramifications of operating a vehicle and what could happen if you were to lose control of said vehicle. If at 16 you are able to have enough judgment to operate a machine that can potentially take lives, then why don’t you have enough judgment to vote for public office?

If you bring up the argument that a 16-year-olds brain is still developing and shouldn’t vote for officials that lead our nation into the future, then should that same 16-year-old really be operating a vehicle given the fact that their brain is still developing? It just doesn’t make any sense. At 16, I was able to form my own viewpoints and make my own conclusions on politics. 

The same argument can be applied to marriage. In most states the minimum age to marry is 16 with parental consent. California is one of the few states to allow minors to marry at any age with parental consent and a court hearing. And yet the minimum age to vote in our country is 18.

It’s absurd when you think about it. Minors can get married and operate motor vehicles all before they can vote. Marriage is a life-long commitment and requires a good sense of judgment, the same as operating a motor vehicle.

Not only can minors marry and operate a vehicle, they can also enlist in the military at the age of 17. They’re not even a legal adult yet and they can sign a contract that binds them to four years of active service. Of course this is entirely their choice and that’s what this argument boils down to: choice. 

As I continued to think about it, the topic of abortion came to mind. Abortion laws around the country are different, but in California it is legal and minors do not need to either notify or recieve permission from their parents. Minors can simply get an abortion the same as an adult woman.

Lowering the voting age to 16 wouldn’t hurt anyone at all. It would help minors feel like their decisions on their future actually matter. By lowering the age, we broaden the scope of just what minors are allowed to do in this country. 

In the end this all boils down to a choice that they have to make. If they have the choice to legally get an abortion then why not open up their list of possibilities?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with them getting an abortion, but if minors can choose to get one, then why can’t minors vote on the future of our nation? After all, we will be the ones living in that future so it should be our right to vote on it.