Updated: Feb 18
An 8th Grader with a Passion for Writing
I have been teaching Mahesa for over a year now, and I am immensely proud of what she has accomplished. Over this time, she has progressed in many areas of writing from conciseness to academic conventions. In fact, during the past year, Mahesa was placed on the honor roll. While she is writing beyond her grade level, she has not stopped challenging herself and is now publishing her writings on the web. Mahesa wrote this between the summer of 7th and 8th grade. I am looking forward to her next publication!
The Importance of Youth Voting Rights
According to the 26th amendment, voting has been permitted to citizens 18 and older. This empowers citizens to determine future laws. Though not all citizens have this right, it is time to reevaluate the voting rights for young citizens. Society has allowed them to be treated as adults but the privileges are not yet given. They don’t have equal rights as adults but do have the consequences. Although some may believe that citizens at sixteen are not mature enough to vote, they are in fact ready, especially as they already face adult responsibilities, participate in politics, and should be required to form voting habits.
Young people are managing adult tasks, for example learning to drive. In many states, they are required to follow law and if broken, they face adult criminal court. According to the National Youth Rights Association, 250,000 people under 18 have been tried, sentenced, or even imprisoned. If youth citizens follow laws and face adult consequences, they should be allowed to have a voice in their future and the laws therein. If society expects teenagers to understand the laws and know the difference between one's rights and wrongs, society should recognize that they are ready to handle more adult responsibilities. The National Youth Rights Association believes if young citizens are old enough to understand and face adult prison, then it’s ignorant to believe they are not mature enough to vote: “It is hypocritical to sentence us that we are mature, responsible adults when they commit a crime, but ignorant and naïve when we want to vote” (NYRA). In other words, if high schoolers are responsible for facing adult consequences, the National Youth Rights Association suggests that youths should be able to determine their future and teenagers need the right to vote.
Teenagers participate in politics; therefore, they have the knowledge to decide where their vote should be placed. Society has attempted to dissuade high schoolers from the political process. Against society, teenagers have made their voices heard. They are able to contribute the same effects as adults. According to the US supreme court, forbidding young citizens from the political process of campaigning violates the first amendment. They are participating in political groups and receiving information on the political process. They have the knowledge to expedite decisions about their future. High Schoolers participating in politics reveals that they can understand and be successful through the political process of voting. If youth citizens already participate in the political process they should dictate their future laws like adults. Teenagers have formed “Political Action Committees, managing campaigns advocating for our rights in front of legislative bodies, and becoming grassroots activists.” (NYRA). If they are fighting to make their voices heard and are participating in politics, they show maturity, yet many have claimed teenagers are not mature. However, if demonstrating adult responsibility through activism is not mature then what is? By engaging in politics, teenagers reveal just how mature they can be. High Schoolers should be qualified to vote because they have the maturity from participating in politics and are ready to choose their future laws that will best support the country's welfare. Young citizens are allowed to participate in politics but it is necessary to develop voting as a habit and society needs to start during the teenage years.
To make voting a habit, it is best started at an early stage of adolescence. If voting turns into a habit it may be difficult to break; therefore, there would be more votes which increases the voter turnout. The rate of voter turnout depends on disparities in political influence between incomes. According to Vote 16 USA voting tendencies are habitual. Research reveals that it is easier to establish lifelong voters at sixteen is easier to establish as a habit than at eighteen. When voting is a habit it becomes harder to change. Carl E Pickhardt, a Harvard psychologist, states that as one grows it becomes harder to develop good habits and remove bad ones: “What last stage adolescents discover is that good habits are hard to start (that takes "will" power), and bad habits are hard to stop (that takes "won't" power).” Starting habits as an adult can be difficult. Society needs to let high schoolers vote so one can develop this good habit.
The Adult Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-Pal) is a global research community who works to decrease poverty by guaranteeing that policies are supported by scientific evidence. J-Pal has conducted a test on voting and habit formation in the United States. The study was in New Haven, Connecticut and they were looking to see how many voters would return to vote for another year. From 1989 - 1999 the participation rate increased. J-Pal states it has to do with voting to be habitual: “in 1998 raised participation rate in the 1999 elections by 1.1 and 1.9 percentage points, respectively. The continuing influence of the interventions suggests that many of the new voters who were encouraged to vote by the two interventions might have formed a habit of active voter participation”(J-Pal). The data reveal the importance of habit formation when it comes to voting. If youth citizens were encouraged to vote in high school, this habit would be formed early in life. If Americans want to increase voter turnout, they should permit sixteen-year-olds to cast their ballots.
The right to vote is granted for adults but future generations are going to follow these laws that others have chose for them. Many adults believe teenagers are not mature; however, they have proved themselves by facing adult consequences, participating in politics, and by developing good habits. Sixteen-year-olds must face adult consequences they should should be able to choose lawmaker too. These rights are valuable to teenagers and their future, and high Schoolers should be able to have a voice in what laws could change their future. If youth citizens are treated like adults, then the right to vote should be granted..