It takes a good degree of maturity to be a responsible voter
By: Necla Karaca – 2023 Summer Intern
The one thing that younger teens cannot do to change the world is vote. They must be 18 years old to vote in most elections. Teens can start food drives. They can pick up litter. They can donate money to causes they believe in. They are allowed to start food drives, pick up litter, and donate money to causes they believe in, but they cannot vote.
And some teens are now demanding the right to vote when they reach 16 years old.
But voting is a big responsibility and requires maturity. The outcomes affect everyone. It would be good for teens under 18 years old to vote to express their opinions and to help improve their communities. But only if they take the responsibility seriously, and we see too many don’t.
Some countries have extended voting rights to 16-year-olds, and research has found that lowering the voting age increases youth voter participation. Other studies have found that 16-year-olds hold equivalent levels of civic competence to 18-year-olds.
That is a good thing, considering the low voter turnout in many elections. But we must consider another factor. Many 16-year-olds are not mature enough to take voting seriously. They could do a lot of damage, not only to the economy, but to democracy.
So, as much as we would like to inspire young people to get involved in politics and civic life, age and maturity matter. Lowering the voting age to 16 would simply do more harm than good.
Necla Karaca wrote this opinion piece while interning for the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg and PA Media Group. It was published here.