How old is old enough to vote?


Photo used with permission from Wikimedia Commons

Local municipalities lower the voting age to 16.

Debates about lowering the voting age in the U.S. have raged since the county’s inception. If the voting age were to be lowered, one option is to allow anyone 16 and up to vote. Proponents argue that when a person turns 16, they can get a job, pay taxes, and be tried as an adult in some scenarios.

If the voting age were to be lowered to 16, high schoolers who have been more aware of gun laws through the horrific events of school and mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S would be able to give a political say through their vote. However, 16 year olds have been proven to be more likely to choose something or someone because their friends do, more than 18-year-olds.

Teachers do not agree that the voting age should be changed. English teacher Zach Hardy said, “I think the voting age should stay 18 or even increase to 21, but definitely not 16 because I don’t think my understanding of the world and social issues were good until I was older. It takes a while to understand.”

Students agree with Hardy. Kunst said, “Although when I was 16 I wanted to vote and thought I was ready, I think the voting age should stay at 18. I think a person matures and learns a lot in between those two ages, myself included. I think lowering the voting age would bring in voters who are not yet mature enough to vote. 18 is a good age where people who are young, but not too young, can be included in the election.”

According to, in 1979, “The 26th Amendment to the U.S Constitution extended the right to vote to all Americans aged 18 and older by lowering the federal voting age from 21.” Section 1 of the 26th Amendment reads as follows: “The right of citizens in the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” Constitutional amendments require passage by two-thirds of the House and Senate, and ratification by three-fourths of the nation’s state legislators, if enacted, the voting age would be lowered for federal, state, and local elections.

Two cities in Maryland – Takoma Park, and Hyattsville – have successfully lowered the minimum voting age to 16. Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are two cities pushing for a decrease in the minimum voting age. This is only for local elections, not for state or presidential elections. According to Vote16USA, “Takoma Park was the first city to lower the voting age in the United States. The reform was passed in the context of a larger effort to expand voting rights in the city. In the first election that 16-year-olds were eligible to vote in, the turnout rate for 16 and 17-year-olds exceeded that of any other age group.”

Kai Schmelzer is a 15-year-old freshman. Schmelzer will be unable to vote in the upcoming presidential election due to the age requirement being 18. Schmelzer said, “It shouldn’t be decreased. 16 year olds typically don’t have a good sense of what is going on with politics and the true problems of the world. They might also take it as a joke and just vote for someone to be funny. They also are so young and closed-minded that they wouldn’t be able to vote for someone that could help the majority of people and not just them. I think it would end badly if 16-year-olds could vote since they wouldn’t truly know what’s best.”