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People use voting to make decisions and voice their opinions following long interviews, political campaigns, or debates. Primarily, democracies elect their representatives through a referendum mechanism that allows voters to exercise their civil rights. The voting age is the legal requirement that a voter must reach in order to vote in public elections (Tilley and Evans 22). The voting limit is 18 years old everywhere in the country. In other countries, though, the voting age may be as young as 18 or as old as 21. Before the Second World War began the voting age was 21 year. After the Second World War, nations started enacting laws to reduce the voting age to 18 years, and by 1968, a total of 18 countries had adopted the law (Briggs 143). The voting age globally stands at 18 years although there are discussions to reduce the age to 16 years old.
Should it be raised or lowered?
The topic of reducing the voting age from 18 years to 16 years has gained considerable attention since the issue came up. The opposers of the idea argue that people at the age if sixteen can not make the right decisions regarding their political affiliation and they are inexperienced on the issues to do with politics and nationalism (Tilley and Evans 24). Consequently, they will be likely be influenced by financial and material gain, and thus their decision will not be based on the goodwill of the nation. Furthermore, at the age of 16, the young adults do not engage or deal with the government in issues to do with taxes, and so their judgment will not be based on the issues that affect them as citizens (Eichhorn 22). Other laws such as the issuance of a driving license and the drinking age are moving up with the drinking age being 21 while the driving age stands at 17 or 18 years. These legal ages are moving up rather than going down indicating the decision should be based on more maturity, and the same should apply to the voting age.
The voting age should be reduced, as the benefits the 16-year-olds and the nations stand to gain from the change are immense. Firstly, the youths suffer from a double standard of facing adult’s responsibilities, but they do not have the right to vote. In the United State, the government ratified the 26th amendment granting 18-20-year-olds the right to vote (Bergh 92). At the height of the Vietnamese war, American realized that the government was sending 18-year-olds to fight and die in Vietnam while they were not allowed to vote and at the same time, they were given adult responsibilities. Currently, the youths are subjects to adult’s criminal penalties while they do not have the right to elect their leaders or vote. This sends a wrong message to the youths that they are judged on adult penalties when they commit capital offenses by they are treated as brainless and silly when it comes to voting (Eichhorn 23). This is a double standard, and the voting age should be reduced to match the responsibilities accorded to the youths.
Additionally, teenagers live under the laws, pay taxes and should be allowed to vote. Teens in America are treated as adults and are subject to sale and income taxes. The teens in America pay close to $9.7 billion dollars in sale taxes to the government alone (Zeglovits and Aichholzer 355). Consequently, young people who are working are subject to income taxes on the income they are regardless of whether the job is permanent of casual. More than 80% of the youth work at some point before they graduate from high school and they pay billions of dollars to the local, federal, and the national government in taxes (Bergh 99). Primarily, they should have a say voters since they contribute to the national income. Apart from the taxes, the youths have to live under the laws that govern other Americans. This means that every inaction or action taken by the lawmakers affects the young people both directly and indirectly and they youths do not have a say in such laws. This brings the conclusion that they youths are governed but do not consent.
Similarly, the politicians will represent the interest of the teens if they are allowed to vote. The politicians represent several constituencies, which have the benefit of the young people. This brings the question whether the politicians represent the interests of the people who do not vote for them. Primarily, lowering the voting age give the youths a bargaining power to elect individuals who serve their interest (Zeglovits and Aichholzer 352). Moreover, the politicians will have the desire to respect the issues put forward by the young people. Moreover, the teens feel alienated from politicians and politics and lowering the voting age to include them in the voting register will have them make some crucial decision on the leaders should lead them and present their interested adequately (Briggs 120). Moreover, the voting causes alienation of the youths from the political process and can results to the young people to venturing in another mechanism to put forward their agendas and ideas such as violence resulting in gaps between the nations actions and deals.
In conclusion, the voting age should be reduced to accommodate the interests of the youths. Teenagers aged above 16 years have the right to vote as they are subject to some laws that treat them as adults such as paying taxes, criminal convictions as adults, and the double standard responsibilities. This shows that that the teens should have a say on the people who are to lead them as they will make laws and regulations that affect them. Furthermore. The politicians should represent the interest of all the individuals in the community especially the youth, women, children, and the old. Primarily, it is only through election only that the teens can ensure that they vote in people who have their interest at heart. Moreover, through lowering the voting age, the youth will have the opportunity to elect leaders who are accountable.
Bergh, Johannes. "Does voting rights affect the political maturity of 16-and 17-year-olds? Findings from the 2011 Norwegian voting-age trial." Electoral Studies 32.1 (2013): 90-100.
Briggs, Jacqueline. "Should 16-and 17-Year Olds Be Given the Right to Vote?." Young People and Political Participation. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017. 109-157.
Eichhorn, Jan. "Should the Voting Age be Lowered to 16 for UK Elections?." Political Insight 6.2 (2015): 22-23.
Tilley, James, and Geoffrey Evans. "Ageing and generational effects on vote choice: Combining cross-sectional and panel data to estimate APC effects." Electoral Studies 33 (2014): 19-27.
Zeglovits, Eva, and Julian Aichholzer. "Are people more inclined to vote at 16 than at 18? Evidence for the first-time voting boost among 16-to 25-year-olds in Austria." Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 24.3 (2014): 351-361.
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