■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
When the push to grant 18-year-olds the right to vote was on, the country was so sure that these young men and women would revolutionize American elections. In the beginning they were gung-ho to cast their ballots. However, in due time they adopted the habits of their parents and were just as lax as their elders. And among the voting population, the teen-aged girls (like their mothers) were more likely to cast a ballot than their fathers.
Today, thanks to the senseless murders of students in Florida last year, a new youth movement has risen up like the Phoenix from the ashes and taken the country by storm. Some said it would pass and these young folks would go about their activities as they did in the past with sports, music, texting, etc. Funny thing is, their desire to make a difference is growing. From Podunk to Gotham they are gathering; becoming activists and demanding changes.
Along with their activism, there is a subculture moving for lowering the voting age once again. Some critics believe that even eighteen is too young. Teenagers counter with facts. I did some man-in-the-coffee-shop interviews and came away with varied points of view.
One seventeen year old junior from a local high school had this argument, “If I’m old enough to be sent off to die for my country, why shouldn’t I have the right to have a say so at the ballot box?” A compelling thought.
A sixteen year old girl opined, “I know how government operates. I’m vice-president of our student council. My seventeen year old brother was part of the student government day in Sacramento. We are not dumb. We’re just being silenced by older people who fear that we might really have something to say, and we do.”
This reporter did some research and located one country where the voting age is actually sixteen – Austria. Their quality of vote choice is no lower than their elders. Exactly the same as eighteen-year-olds in the United States.
Those who advocate this type of reform argue that it would have a positive impact on elections, because those young folks are still in school and living at home, reasons that encourage voting. Some studies indicate that lowering the voting age is not only justified as a way to stop the decline in turnout, but also to ensure that the interests of young citizens are represented in the political system (Votes at 16, 2008)
With mid-term elections approaching we will be writing more about reasons to vote and whether lowering the age lends value to the ballot box. Your input is welcome. Just saying.
Rusty Strait can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.