Voting refers to the process of making collective decisions and expressing opinions in a meeting or a group after discussions, debates and election campaigns. Voting is a responsibility and a right for every individual in a country with democratic political structures. The voting process facilitates choice and preference expression in the search for individual interests. The practice also helps citizens to participate actively in their societies without manipulation or dictatorship. In most nations, the age acceptable for a person to participate in the elections is 18 years. However, age bracket has appeared a serious issue in some nations, others claiming that nations should raise the minimum voting years.On the contrary, others feel that raising the voting years will violate the democratic rights of teenagers to participate in elections. In the United States, where the minimum voting age is 18 years, the voting age is gaining momentum as controversies erupt, with some members claiming that the voting years increase. In contrast, others suggest that the voting years should be lower to 16 years (Wagner et al., 2012). Although other people are defensive on reducing the voting years in the United States, the minimum voting age should raise since citizens aged 16 and 18 years have little essential political knowledge, cognitive capacity, life experience and independence.
Voting is a critical process in a nation since it determines the guiding principles of the particular state. Therefore, effective voting proceduresrequire the participants to be fully aware of the consequences of their decisions through participating in the process. Raising the minimum voting age would therefore mean few participants in the national elections. According to Wray-Lake, Wilf & Oosterhoff (2019), raising the voting age would deny the American youths their rights to vote. Wray-Lake, Wilf & Oosterhoff, 2019, say that denying young people the opportunities to participate in national events would facilitate disconnection with society. In the United States, teenagers from 16 years are free to make critical life decisions like marrying and medical concerns, and therefore it would be unfair to deny theirvoting rights.Furthermore, with the current easier access to the internet, the young generation is exposed and drawn to many social and political activities, equipping them intellectually, physically, and emotionally to participate in elections (Peto, 2018). However, Peto says that a higher minimum voting age would deny the teenagers their civic participation, hence lowering the voters’ turnout, indicating a large number of unrepresented populations. Therefore, raising the minimum voting age will deny teenagers voting rights and limit their representation in national politics.
However, a lower voting age has greater consequences on teenagers than advantages. Allowing teenagers to participate in the voting process at the national level is somewhat inappropriate since teenagers are less informed on political and social issues, which denies them the ability to make informed decisions. According to Peto (2018), elections require fully matured people with the cognitive ability to read, understand and analyze the national political operations to make informed decisions. Developmental science and political knowledge experts also positively contribute to the debate emphasizing the rise of the minimum voting age in the United States. Wagner et al. (2012) state that the adolescent age is an age with great cognitive, neurological, physical and social changes that hinder efficient recognition of owns rights and privileges. Hence, it is unreasonable to lower the voting age of American citizens due to the inadequate knowledge and cognitive capacity to claim independence in decision-making concerning national experiences and interests.
It is also inappropriate to advocate for lowering voting years in the United States since teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are entitled to support and protection under their parents and guardian. Peto (2018) stated that teenagers cannot be expected to make informed choices in national politics since they are still under the control of their guardians and parents. The parents offer them support and influence significantly on their decisions; hence their voting process will not be from an independent mind but the direction of their parent and guardians. Besides, allowing low voting ages degrades the societal, school and children welfare systems efforts towards protecting children and achieving justice to the American child (Wagner et al. 2012). Lowering the minimum voting age of the American child will create room for violation of children’s rights since it will limitefficient protection of the child over manipulators who can use negative ways like bribing to gain their votes.
In conclusion, voting is an essential practice in society since it determines the policies and guiding principles in a nation. The voting process requires consciousness from the participants of the election to ensure that they are responsible for their decisions. The minimum voting age of many nations, including the United States, is 18 years, increasing. A lower voting age would allow the youths to exercise their voting rights and facilitate their national political representation. However, a lower age would allow voting participants who have insufficient political knowledge and little cognitive ability, limiting their ability to make an informed choice. It is, therefore, necessary to increase the minimum voting age from 18 to a higher age to allow for the participation of people with informed judgment hence preventing manipulation from other people. Finally, a higher voting age would ensure children’s protection from injustices.
Oosterhoff, B., Wray-Lake, L., & Hart, D. (2021). Reconsidering the Minimum Voting Age in the United States. https://psyarxiv.com/xy7ph/
Peto, T. (2018). Why the voting age should be lowered to 16. Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 17(3), 277-297. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1470594X17705651
Wagner, M., Johann, D., & Kritzinger, S. (2012). Voting at 16: Turnout and the quality of vote choice. Electoral Studies, 31(2), 372-383. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379412000212
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