We Should Vote, but is Voting at 16 appropriate?

by Alison Yip


People say that there is a lack of voting from their citizens as shown from declining voter turnouts with the exception of Presidential Elections. Some do not vote because they do not believe their votes to be necessary, as they do not see change happening. Civic disengagement has become a problem in a long-standing democracy. This is an issue that must be fixed because when one does not vote, their voice is not heard.

Even though America is not a direct democracy, but a representative democracy, people elect others to represent them and their wishes. Some people think allowing sixteen year olds to vote will solve the issue of civic disengagement. However, I strongly disagree with such notion and movements like #vote16SF, which is a movement to fight for sixteen year olds to be able to vote in municipal elections in San Francisco.

Being able to vote at sixteen sounds great right? A sixteen year old can’t drink nor smoke nor drive free yet, but can vote in local elections. While I do agree that teens should be able to vote to a certain degree, I think it should be restricted to things like education and education programs the schools offer because this directly affects them.

We should let teenagers vote for propositions that directly affect them, not things that many are unaware of yet. Why should we let teens vote for education? Because teens are the ones most directly affected, as they are the ones receiving education. We should have the power to control what affects us directly and daily. We know what works, we know how it affects us and we should have that choice.

However, I do not agree with teens voting for propositions like the Air BnB proposition that came up for a vote late last year. Why? With propositions like such, by big companies with the power to have unlimited advertising, teens can be easily swayed. If many teens cannot sit down to read for a couple hours, how will they be able to read through lines and lines of legal jargon? Will teens read the proposition and research prior to voting? Teens would much rather turn on the TV and watch the advertisements telling us how to vote instead.

Teens should not vote in cases like these not only because it requires much reading and research, but also because these are issues many of us have yet to face. Issues such as crime, transparency in the police force, bond issues and etc. have a limited population of teens who do understand these issues. Teens should not be given the right to vote on issues that impact a much bigger community because they lack the real world experience and knowledge to vote accordingly.

Civic disengagement is definitely a problem but it should not be fixed by allowing teens to vote. There should be some type of action but the #vote16SF is not the answer to get more people to vote. To get more people involved, there must be something that rewards them for their involvement and the reward should come in two rounds, a quick change and then slow change throughout time to show progress.

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