Voting: if you don't mind it doesn't matter, but we mind, so let us matter
We need to defeat the stigmas surrounding today's 16 year olds.
Age and maturity are two disparate things that people quite often view as parallel from an objective stand point; where age equates to a subsequent level of maturity. When creating this direct link between the two, subjectivity is ignored entirely. People generally tend to look at youth as a collective, where the common denominator is causally made to unjustly reflect the collective as a whole.
Critics of giving citizens under 18 the right to vote argue that such teenagers lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections. This may be true for a portion of the under 18 collective currently, but couldn't it also be said that if we were to allow these 16 year olds the right to vote, that a raised interest and human agency in politics would arise as a product of this responsibility.
It is possible for someone to make an uninformed vote, but is there such thing a wrong vote? Everyone shares varying perspectives and opinions when making decisions concerning politics, so it does not seem plausible to label a vote right nor wrong. If we agree that there is no such thing as a 'wrong' vote, then we must also agree that 16 year olds can't make wrong votes as they seemingly don't exist. The argument surrounding the idea that we "are still maturing, and have not learned enough yet through education as well as experience to make fully informed decisions" demonstrates the notion of an uninformed vote. I myself would agree that, given the right to vote, some sixteen year olds would make uninformed decisions, but I would also agree that not every 'adult' is well informed, especially in relation to politics. Therefore both adults and 16 year olds are capable of making uninformed votes, subsequently meaning it wouldn't be fair to dismiss a 16 year old’s vote on the basis that they aren't 'well informed’. For someone to label our man-made collective this way, one must also look at theirs, and their lowest common denominator.
We are able to work, leave school, drive, live on our own independently, join the army and even get married and have children at the age of 16, but we can't vote? We're considered juvenile and much too immature to have any say in our country's governance.
The voting age was lowered from twenty one to eighteen in 1969 during the Vietnam war, because it seemed only fair to allow the eighteen to twenty year olds dying for their country a say in its governance. Therefore if 16 year olds are now able to join the armed forces, why shouldn't we allow them the same right?
I think people tend to forget that we also want what is best for our country. We're the ones that are going to have to deal with the decisions being made right now, so why doubt our intentions; why doubt our moral rationality? Yes, many of our government's decisions will also affect those under the age of 16, but 16 is the age at which the majority of legal responsibilities are introduced, so don't deny us the right to vote because you're scared of erasing a previously constructed line between adulthood and childhood.
The state or condition of being fully grown or mature is what we refer to as adulthood. Being over eighteen and considered an 'adult' is all that has previously allowed one the right to vote, so long as you aren't confined behind bars. I'd consider someone that's legally able to work, drive, leave school, live on their own independently, join the army and even get married and have children a typically classified adult, wouldn't you? Lowering the voting age will not blur the lines between adulthood and childhood any further, as they've seemingly already been constructed through societal ideologies.
Voting is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind it doesn't matter, but we mind, so let us matter.
VicSRC Executive Student 2018
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