Con: The voting age should not be lowered.

The brain of a 16 year old isn’t fully developed. On average, brain development doesn’t stop until mid to early 20’s. Even at 18, views are still forming. At 16, people are ruled by their amygdala, an area of the brain involved in emotions and not by the prefrontal cortex, an area involved in rational thinking and decision making.

Major American cities, like San Francisco, have recently been considering lowering its voting age to 16. While the government aims to increase voter turn-out, kids under the age of 18 simply aren’t mature enough to participate in elections. Sixteen and 17-year-olds lack political knowledge and life experience needed to participate in elections, therefore should not participate in the elections.

Sixteen-year-olds aren’t informed enough to make such decisions that can affect the rest of the country. Here at Irvine High, students do not take government classes until they are seniors, so it shouldn’t be expected for 16-year-olds to have the political knowledge to vote. According to Annenberg Public Policy Center, even American adults struggle with political knowledge with only 36% being able to name the three branches of government. Lowering the voting age to 16 is not the right solution to have young people involved with politics.

At the age of 16 and 17, young individuals lack enough life-experience to be given the responsibility of voting. The legal drinking age was increased from 18 to 21, and the age when kids may drive a car without any conditions has now increased to 17 or 18 by most state laws. In other words, the law tends to move toward greater maturity to ensure responsible governance.

It can be argued that many 16-year-olds are just as intellectually mature as their 18-year-old counterparts.  However, if intellectual maturity is what we’re seeking, then the voting age should really be raised rather than lowered. According to Social scientists Tak Wing Chan, Ph.D., and Matthew Clayton, DPhil, 16 and 17-year-olds would not be competent voters because “research in neuroscience suggests that the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex, is still undergoing major reconstruction and development during the teenage years.”  They added that the prefrontal cortex is what enables us to weigh dilemmas, balance trade-offs and, in short, make reasonable decisions in politics. Based on this evidence, shouldn’t the conversation be about raising the voting age rather than lowering it?

Sixteen-year-olds are allowed to drive because they are at the right age to start learning about it and the responsibilities it entails, but they are by no means experienced. Teen brains are still developing, and lack full adult capabilities for long-term planning and thoughtful decision-making. Just because 16-year-olds can not vote, doesn’t mean the government doesn’t care about what they think; there are numerous ways to interact with politicians that allow them to get their point across, like signing petitions and protesting.

Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
94 votes