Now that mid-terms are over, for the most part anyway, many of us could do with a little breather from the word “vote.” Unless we are talking about the now 123 women who will be in the next Congress! Or, how young people came out in record numbers! That got MEDIAGIRLS wondering about what preteen and teen girls think should be the minimum age to vote? Here’s what their Youth Advisory Board had to say. Once you’re done reading, use this post as a springboard to start the conversation with your own girl on the topic. If she’s not big into politics, this is a great first step to get her thinking!
Lehna, age 15: I say it should be 15 because I feel that teens should be responsible enough to have our own opinions. Teens should have been thinking about voting issues anyway because it is the life that we are going to live. We are gonna be a part of the world as an adult, and not a minor. Teens have to know now what we have to understand in the future, even if we are technically still kids. Voting would help us to really understand. Life is really hard, but it is good for us to know the issues now so we can make decisions about our future.
Nicole, age 12: I think the minimum age to vote should be 16 because we need to make sure the voters are responsible and are able to come to a mature decision about who they want in the government. I feel that, if the minimum goes down any lower, people won’t make a mature decision and would probably go with what their friends are thinking. We need to make sure that we have responsible, and mature, voters so that we each get a share in what happens in the government.
Annika, age 12: I think that 18 is a good age for many reasons; one, being right of passage. Turning 18 is a big enough deal on its own, but now being able to vote? That just sweetens the deal a whole lot more.
Sarah, age 13: I think the youngest age to vote should be 12 years old. Kids have many ideas that adults would never think of. They understand the world from a different perspective. Many of these decisions affect kids and they should have a say.
Claire, age 13: I completely believe that sixteen-year-olds should be able to vote! So many sixteen-year-olds are up to date on the news, and are concerned about the issues. Being a teenager means we can understand and be affected by government, but can’t do anything to change it. I know kids that are sixteen who have jobs, pay taxes, and can drive. Why shouldn’t they have a say in the way they’re treated? Educated voters can be an issue, but with the technology we have today, a sixteen-year-old can get the same information as an adult. We need as many voices as possible, and sixteen-year-old voters are the best approach.
Olivia, age 15: Ever since the age of 16, I have desperately wanted to vote. Politics and government have been topics of interest for a long time, so I wanted to get involved with my government at a young age. However, I do recognize that not everyone my age is as informed and willing to do so as I am. So, after discussing with my mom, I have decided that I believe every American citizen should be able to vote at the minimum age of 18; however, a 16 or 17-year-old may vote if they chose to take a standard civics test. If they pass, they may then vote. While 16-year-olds can hold a job, pay taxes, and drive, they also cannot join the military, and they are also generally less informed and mentally developed than the average 18-year-old. So, if a 16or 17-year-old truly feels they are ready to take the next step earlier and are willing to put in the conscious effort, they should be able to make an educated decision to vote. I believe that offering younger citizens the option of standing up and fighting for their beliefs is an extremely powerful, and necessary, tool in American society today that will help enact true change that is reflective of the American people.
Amari, age 12: I believe that the youngest voting age should be 16. I believe this because many people at that age know far more about politics than some adults do, so the reasoning shouldn’t be used that they “won’t know enough about it”. Even as a 13-year-old, I know more than some adults do about the candidates. This is because some adults don’t even take the time to do basic research and form their own opinion, and instead just go off whatever their friends or family say. I believe that 16-year-olds are mature enough to have such a responsibility and I think it’s important to have representation in the lower ages, especially since who is elected can entirely change the new generation’s future. Additionally, most teens these days know great amounts about the elections and have sufficient knowledge about the candidates to have formed their own opinions on who to vote for. 16-year-olds are also at an age in which they are trying to become independent from their parents, so they most likely won’t just vote for whoever their parents tell them to vote for, and instead be their own person with an independent opinion.
Sheila, age 11: In my opinion, I think that the minimum age should be 17. Not a big difference but that is the age that you can actually start to driving by yourself. Driving is a really big privilege and responsibility and so is voting. I feel like 17-year-olds have the idea about voting and all the terms but I also agree with the 18-year-olds doing it.
Ask your girl:
- What age do you think is the youngest that people should be allowed to vote?
- Why that number?
- Would you agree with Olivia (above) that younger people, age 16, should be allowed to vote if they pass a Civics test?
- Do you agree with Lehna (above) that teens would take political concerns more seriously if they knew they’d be voting?
This piece was originally published on MEDIAGIRLS.ORG and is republished with permission. Michelle Cove is the Executive Director of MEDIAGIRLS®, a nonprofit organization that teaches girls how to critique the way girls and women are portrayed in pop culture with an emphasis on creating empowering content.
She is also an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and author whose projects have been featured on numerous national platforms including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Katie Couric’s talk show “Katie,” “The Today Show,” The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
Visit www.mediagirls.org to learn more.