Why teens should have a say in politics

A 14-year-old's perspective on why minors should have the right to vote.

2012 is a year of change for America. With the election rapidly approaching, political discussions are abundant. Young people are becoming increasingly more involved in the election—they hear about it in the media, they read about it in history class and they form their own opinions on issues. So, my question is this: If politics has an impact on people under the age of 18, why aren't minors allowed to vote?

I understand that minors may not know enough information about an issue to cast a vote on it. But there are numerous issues that young people experience firsthand. Considering children are a huge component of the American population, I feel the government should focus on more issues that directly affect young people. 

Take bullying, for example. In recent years, bullying has cost the lives of many young people. Lots of children deal with this issue on a regular basis.  

Another good example of an issue that affects youth is school budget cuts. Schools have lost great teachers, programs and opportunities due to the lack of funding.

Because these issues have a huge impact on young people's lives, I believe minors should be able to cast their vote on them. 

Decades ago, the legal voting age was 21. It was only 41 years ago that 18-year-olds received the right to vote. But why 18? Why not 16, or 15, or 14? Here's the way I see it: Because minors are members of this country, they're affected by the government as much as anyone else.

As Grace Llewellyn wrote in The Teenage Liberation Handbook, "Regardless of what the law has to say about this, you are as human as anyone over the age of 18."

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Think Free January 10, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Imagine, how you were at 14 and if the person you wanted to be President Was elected. I Think Joe Walsh or Frank Zappa would have been president
M.Legison January 10, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Gotta go with Todd on this one!
Jacqueline Cheung January 10, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I respect your opinion Kelly. However, legally anyone under the age of 18 is a minor. One of the reasons why minors aren't allowed to vote is because there is a significant minor population and our nation doesn't want big decisions, such as who the next president is, or whether or not we should pay certain taxes, decided by minors. When young adults hit 18, they begin to make adult decisions and take on adult responsibilities and actually contribute to our economy and work force. I think that some 14 year olds might be mature and you're probably be one of those, but I doubt every single person at your school, for instance, would be mature enough to make decisions about voting.
Julie January 11, 2012 at 01:15 AM
It's a scientific fact that the prefrontal cortex of the human brain is not fully developed until a person is in their early twenties. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that controls much of our cognitive thinking and where sound and responsible choices are made. This is why children under eighteen should not be allowed to vote and why "father knows best."
Wendy Kinney January 11, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Wow Kelly, you sure got people writing with this blog. Keep asking tough questions! If the argument for the voting age being set at 18 is that the prefrontal is not fully developed until the early twenties, then are the voters age 18-23 not making "responsible choices"? As for voting for Frank Zappa for president, he was a brilliant man and we could have done worse.
M.Legison January 11, 2012 at 05:58 AM
We already did worse in 2008. While I'm pretty sure Kelly would lean Democrat as most of the public school indoctrinated young voters do, my bet is she has more competence at her age than lots of others at 21 or over. Kelly, I enjoy your columns and really encourage you to keep writing and putting forth your ideas.
Johann Schuster January 13, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Hello Kelly. I believe you list several valid reasons minors are able to clearly see a few issues. Unfortunately, voting isn't restricted to 'teenager' issues alone. If you peruse a typical ballot handbook, you will see a large variety of issues at hand. To make a disciplined, informed decision requires thorough, honest research. Too few American adults do this as it is. As an example I've heard numerous coworkers tell me they voted for Obama because McCain was too old, or because Obama was black and it "was about time." They misused their right to vote, in my opinion, by not concentrating on what the candidates actually thought and what experience they are able to use in their roles as executive leaders. I cannot see teenagers, by in large, doing a better job simply because they do not know all the possible parameters complicated decisions should be weighed upon. As an earlier post mentioned, unscrupulous teachers are very adept at showing their students very convenient effectively one sided arguments, resulting in heavily leaning left/ democrat thinking. This happened in my high school too. Many of my conservative friends have relayed similar stories. Although the voices of minors are important, they must be taken in context and those voices cannot be generalized as being thoroughly informed, thus unqualified for voting. Sorry.
Jeff Bayer January 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM
You have created an interesting situation here. While you and your friends that are of similar age may "be up on politics", the vast majority of teenagers are mostly interested in what the opposite sex is doing and what their friends think about it on FaceBook. This alone should disqualify anyone under 18, or even older, in many cases - there is just not enough brain power being committed to what's REALLY going on politically for for teenagers to be allowed to have a "say" in what would affect not only themselves, but the entirety of the population. (continued)
Jeff Bayer January 13, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Having said that, we don't allow teenagers under 18 years of age to join the military to fight battles in the incessant wars that we as a country keep getting involved in either. Furthermore, by joining the military, an 18 year old is literally putting their own life aside by Oath of Office, and pledging it to supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States (at least this is what the Oath says - far from reality of course). This is really why teenagers under the age of 18 should not be allowed to vote - the military doesn't think that the average teenager has the capacity, nor should they be given the opportunity to make life and death decisions on the battlefield, nor to commit themselves to said Oath of Office; we as a society agree with the military, and don't think that teens have the capacity to make the life-altering decisions that are the end result of an election. You CAN walk a precinct, whether you are 8 or 18! No one is stopping you. Do it!
Baxter Hankin July 11, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Whether minors should be able to vote or not, they can voice their opinions and write political opinion articles that get published in our partners' publications at minorsvote.com


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